Singapore: Polls Open In Snap Election Under Coronavirus Cloud

Queues formed early outside polling stations with strict conditions enforced to curb the risks from coronavirus.

Singapore: Polls Open In Snap Election Under Coronavirus Cloud
image Via imagur (CHONG JUN LIANG)

Polls in Singapore have opened Friday election with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) looking to shore up its dominance in the country’s political stage. The party has governed Singapore since its independence in 1965.

Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of the country, called the 24 June elections, citing that the ruling PAP, which had the majority of the legislature seats, 83 of the 89, needed a fresh mandate to take the country through the severe economic fall out caused by the pandemic outbreak.

While speaking to a campaign trail, Loong said, “Do not undermine a system that has served you well.” The older citizens were advised to cast their votes when polling stations opened under strict conditions imposed by the authorities because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Voters were told not to spend more than five minutes in a polling station, and everyone was required to wear facemasks. In the polling stations, the voters must scan their identity cards, sanitize their hands, and put on gloves before receiving the ballot paper.

The country has nearly 2.65 million eligible voters. Those infected with coronavirus and under quarantine cannot vote. However, authorities have said that mobile polling stations will bring ballots to the residents, who recently returned from abroad and are currently in isolation wards or hotels.

Singapore is not the first Asian country to hold its elections during the severe pandemic outbreak. In April, South Korea held elections, but strict social distancing measures have further constrained campaigning.

All the candidates had to adhere to strict rules limiting groups to five, avoid fist-bumping or handshaking. Mass political rallies often attended by thousands of supporters were banned by the health authorities.

Instead, most of the candidates went online to campaign for elections that failed to match the excitement of the rallies. The current polls are being seen as the government’s approval for its response to the coronavirus outbreak in the country and the party’s next-generation leadership since Loong, Singapore’s Prime Minister since 2004, is expected to retire in coming years.

During the election campaign, the opinion polls are also banned. However, election results will be closely watched as even small shifts in the popularity of politicians can lead to major policy changes in the country. In 2011, when concerns about jobs and immigration flared, the ruling PAP polled a new-low sixty percent of the vote and tightened rules on hiring staff from foreign countries to address voters’ sensitivities.

Lee Hsien Yang, the estranged brother of the Prime Minister Laang, decided to join the opposition party in the elections, his move added some excitement to the campaign. Over the fate of their father’s home, the two fell out in a simmering feud.

Soon after the polling ends at 8 pm, the unofficial sample results are expected with the official and final results due in the early hours of Saturday. The government of the city-state has earned global praise for successfully handling the pandemic as Singapore has one of the lowest COVID-19 fatality rates in the world.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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