Constituencies of Singapore

Constituencies in Singapore are electoral divisions which may be represented by single or multiple seats in the Parliament of Singapore. Constituencies are classified as either Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) or Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs). SMCs are single-seat constituencies but GRCs have between four and six seats in Parliament.

Group Representation Constituencies

Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) are a type of electoral constituency unique to Singaporean politics. GRCs are multi-member constituencies which are contested by teams of candidates from one party - or from independents. In each GRC, at least one candidate or Member of Parliament must be from a minority race: either a Malay, Indian or Other.[1]

In 1988, the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) amended the Parliamentary Elections Act[2] to create GRCs. The current Act enables the President, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, to create a GRC from three to six electoral wards. In creating GRCs the President is advised by the Elections Department. The initial maximum size for GRCs was three candidates, but this has subsequently been increased. In the 1991 Singaporean general election, the maximum number of candidates was raised from three to four. In 1997 the maximum number of candidates was further raised to six.[1]

GRCs operate with a plurality voting system, voting by party slate, meaning that the party with the largest share of votes wins all seats in the GRC. (This means that even with a one-vote plurality or majority, the winning team gets to win the whole GRC.) All Singaporean GRCs have had a PAP base.

The official justification for GRCs is to allow minority representation. Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong argued that the introduction of GRCs was necessary to ensure that Singapore's Parliament would continue to be multiracial in its composition and representation.[3] Opposition parties have criticized GRCs as making it even more difficult for non-PAP candidates to be elected to Parliament. The money required to contest a GRC is considerable as each candidate is required to pay a S$16,000 deposit.[1] This means that contesting a GRC is very costly for opposition parties. The presence of Cabinet Ministers in GRCs is often believed to give the PAP a considerable advantage in the contesting of a GRC. The PAP has used this tactic to its advantage on several occasions. Rather than stand in an uncontested GRC, in 1997, then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong shifted his candidacy to where the PAP believed they were most vulnerable, which was the Cheng San GRC.[4] The opposition has charged the government with gerrymandering due to the changing of GRC boundaries at very short notice (see below section on electoral boundaries).

Critics have noted that Joshua Benjamin Jeyaratnam won the 1981 Anson by-election in a Chinese-majority constituency, and that since the GRC system was implemented, minority representation in Parliament has actually declined.

Boundaries and gerrymandering allegations

The boundaries of electoral constituencies in Singapore are decided by the Elections Department, which is under the control of the Prime Minister's Office.[5] Electoral boundaries are generally announced close to elections, usually a few days before the election itself is announced.[5][6] There have been accusations of gerrymandering regarding the redrawing of electoral boundaries and the dissolving of constituencies that return a high percentage of votes for parties other than the ruling PAP.[7]

One of the cases that is often cited as evidence for gerrymandering in Singapore is the case of the Cheng San Group Representation Constituency (GRC). In the 1997 Singaporean general election, the Cheng San GRC was contested by the PAP and the Workers' Party of Singapore (WP). The final results were close, with the PAP winning by 53,553 votes (54.8%) to the WP's 44,132 votes (45.2%). Cheng San GRC had since dissolved thereafter following the 2001 General Elections. Despite the disadvantages assumed by the opposition party in Singapore, the Workers' Party of Singapore would later be successful in taking over a GRC (Aljunied GRC) during the 2011 General Elections[7], and would later hold on for another term in the subsequent election in 2015 despite winning a tight margin of less than 2%.

Current Electoral Map

  • Electoral Map as of 2015

As of the revision of the electorates on August 28, 2017, there were a total of 2,516,608 voters, inclusive of overseas votes.[8] In the most recent General Elections held on September 11, 2015, there were a total of 2,462,926 voters, inclusive of overseas votes.

Map of the results of the Singaporean general election 2015
Singapore electoral boundaries as of 2015 after the 2015 General Election

Group Representation Constituencies

Division Seats Electorate Precincts[9] Wards
Election Present[8]
Aljunied Group Representation Constituency 5 (at least one Malay MP) 148,024 150,603 50 (increased to 51) Bedok Reservoir-Punggol, Eunos, Kaki Bukit, Paya Lebar and Serangoon
Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency 6 (at least one Indian/Other MP) 187,652 183,298 61 Ang Mo Kio-Hougang, Cheng San-Seletar, Jalan Kayu, Sengkang South, Teck Ghee and Yio Chu Kang
Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency 5 (at least one Malay MP) 129,850 126,493 42 Bishan East-Thomson, Bishan North, Toa Payoh Central, Toa Payoh East-Novena and Toa Payoh West-Balestier
Chua Chu Kang Group Representation Constituency 4 (at least one Malay MP) 119,848 130,714 38 (increased to 42) Bukit Gombak, Chua Chu Kang, Keat Hong and Nanyang
East Coast Group Representation Constituency 4 (at least one Malay MP) 99,015 96,474 32 Bedok, Changi-Simei, Kampong Chai Chee and Siglap
Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency 4 (at least one Indian/Other MP) 104,397 109,527 38 Bukit Timah, Cashew, Ulu Pandan and Zhenghua
Jalan Besar Group Representation Constituency 4 (at least one Malay MP) 102,454 99,259 40 Kampong Glam, Kolam Ayer, Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng and Whampoa
Jurong Group Representation Constituency 5 (at least one Indian/Other MP) 130,428 128,549 44 Bukit Batok East, Clementi, Jurong Central, Jurong Spring and Taman Jurong
Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency 5 (at least one Malay MP) 146,087 143,522 50 Braddell Heights, Geylang Serai, Kembangan-Chai Chee, Marine Parade and Joo Chiat
Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency 4 (at least one Malay MP) 107,527 108,460 35 (increased to 36) Limbang, Marsiling, Woodgrove and Yew Tee
Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency 5 (at least one Indian/Other MP) 132,200 135,614 43 (increased to 44) Chong Pang, Kebun Baru, Nee Soon Central, Nee Soon East and Nee Soon South
Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency 6 (at least one Malay MP) 187,252 222,910 67 (increased to 72) Pasir Ris East, Pasir Ris West, Punggol Coast, Punggol North, Punggol West and Sengkang Central
Sembawang Group Representation Constituency 5 (at least one Malay MP) 144,604 150,658 47 (increased to 49) Admiralty, Canberra, Gambas, Sembawang and Woodlands
Tampines Group Representation Constituency 5 (at least one Malay MP) 143,426 145,318 49 Tampines Central, Tampines Changkat, Tampines East, Tampines North and Tampines West
Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency 5 (at least one Indian/Other MP) 130,601 130,597 47 (increased to 48) Buona Vista, Henderson-Dawson, Moulmein-Cairnhill, Queenstown and Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru
West Coast Group Representation Constituency 4 (at least one Indian/Other MP) 99,236 97,485 35 Ayer Rajah, Boon Lay, Telok Blangah and West Coast

Single Member Constituencies

Division Seats Electorate Precinct
Election Present[8]
Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency 1 27,077 26,850 9
Bukit Panjang Single Member Constituency 1 33,035 35,343 12 (increased from 11)
Fengshan Single Member Constituency 1 23,427 22,680 8
Hong Kah North Single Member Constituency 1 27,691 27,584 10 (increased from 9)
Hougang Single Member Constituency 1 24,532 25,912 9
MacPherson Single Member Constituency 1 28,511 27,952 10
Mountbatten Single Member Constituency 1 23,712 23,602 8 (increased from 7)
Pioneer Single Member Constituency 1 25,732 25,254 9
Potong Pasir Single Member Constituency 1 17,306 16,873 5
Punggol East Single Member Constituency 1 33,261 35,159 12 (increased from 10)
Radin Mas Single Member Constituency 1 31,001 27,265 10
Sengkang West Single Member Constituency 1 26,869 41,004 13 (increased from 9)
Yuhua Single Member Constituency 1 23,183 21,649 8 (reduced from 9)

See also


  1. ^ a b c Hussin Mutalib, 'Constituational-Electoral Reforms and Politics in Singapore', Legislative Studies Quarterly 21 (2) (2002), p. 665.
  2. ^ Now the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap. 218, 2011 Rev. Ed.)
  3. ^ Hussin Mutalib, 'Constituational-Electoral Reforms and Politics in Singapore', Legislative Studies Quarterly 21 (2) (2002), p. 664.
  4. ^ Hussin Mutalib, 'Constituational-Electoral Reforms and Politics in Singapore', Legislative Studies Quarterly 21 (2) (2002), p. 666.
  5. ^ a b Alex Au Waipang, 'The Ardour of Tokens: Opposition Parties' Struggle to Make a Difference', in T.Chong (eds), Management of Success: Singapore Revisited (Singapore, 2010), p. 106.
  6. ^ Diane K. Mauzy and R.S. Milne, Singapore Under the People's Action Party (London, 2002), p.143.
  7. ^ a b Bilveer Singh, Politics and Governance in Singapore: An Introduction (Singapore, 2007), p. 172.
  8. ^ a b c [1] (Elections Department) Retrieved August 28th, 2017.
  9. ^ [2] (Elections Department) Retrieved August 28th, 2017.

External links

2011 Singaporean general election

Singapore's general election to form its 12th Parliament was held on 7 May 2011. The Parliament of Singapore's maximum term is five years, within which it must be dissolved by the President of Singapore and elections held within three months, as stated in the Constitution of Singapore. Voting is mandatory in Singapore and is based on the first-past-the-post system. Elections are conducted by the Elections Department, which is under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Office. On 19 April 2011, President S.R. Nathan dissolved parliament. Nomination day was held on 27 April 2011, and for the second election in a row, the PAP did not officially return to power on nomination day, but it did return to power on the polling day. This election also marked the first and the only three-cornered fight since 2001 in Punggol East SMC before it increased to four-cornered fight on a by-election held two years later.

The election was described as a "watershed election" in various forms by various parties. The ruling PAP reminded voters that the election will determine "Singapore's next generation of leaders". The Workers' Party called it a "watershed election" both for Singapore and the opposition, as it marked the first time in two decades that the only two incumbent opposition MPs moved out of their respective strongholds and contested in Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs), risking a situation where there would be "no elected opposition MPs". This was despite the elections having the highest proportion of contested seats since independence, with 82 of 87 seats contested (or 94.3%). 2011 was the year that saw the highest number of seats contested since post-independence; with the second being in 1972 when 87.7% of seats were contested (or 57 out of 65 seats), It marked the first electoral contests in Bishan-Toa Payoh (since 1991) and Holland-Bukit Timah, and also marked Tanjong Pagar as the only constituency to remain uncontested since its formation in 1991.

The final results saw a 6.46% swing against the PAP from the 2006 elections to 60.14%, its lowest since independence. While the PAP met most expectations to sweep into power and claim over two-thirds of parliamentary seats, it won 81 out of 87 seats, and lost Aljunied Group Representation Constituency to the Workers' Party of Singapore, the first time a GRC was won by an opposition party. Including the Hougang Single Member Constituency, the Workers' Party ended up with six seats in Parliament, the best opposition parliamentary result since independence.As six Members of Parliament from the opposition were elected, just three Non-Constituency Member of Parliament seats were offered, one to the Singapore People's Party's Lina Chiam; another to the WP's Yee Jenn Jong; and a third to Gerald Giam of the WP's East Coast Group Representation Constituency team. These offers were all accepted, resulting in a total of nine opposition MPs after the election.

2015 Singaporean general election

The 2015 Singaporean general election was held on 11 September to form Singapore's Parliament. The previous Parliament was dissolved on 25 August 2015 by President Tony Tan on the advice of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and candidates were nominated on 1 September.The election was the first since Singapore's independence which saw all seats contested. Most of the seats were contested between two parties, with the only three-cornered fights occurring in three Single Member Constituencies. Using first-past-the-post voting, the election was also the first after the March 2015 death of Lee Kuan Yew (the nation's first Prime Minister and an MP until his passing) and Singapore's 50th anniversary celebration in August 2015.Out of 89 seats, the People's Action Party (PAP) contested all and won 83, with the other 6 seats won by The Workers' Party of Singapore (WP); the single seat from Punggol East Single Member Constituency was the only seat to change hands, recaptured by PAP. Voter turnout was 93.56%, discounting overseas votes. PAP won its best results since 2001 with 69.86% of the popular vote, an increase of 9.72% from the previous election in 2011. WP scored 39.75% of votes in the 28 seats it contested, a drop of 6.83%. In the overall popular vote, WP scored 12.48% and the remaining seven parties less than 4% each. Three candidates failed to secure 12.5% of votes in their area and thus lost their electoral deposit.

General elections in Singapore

General elections in Singapore must be held within three months after five years have elapsed from the date of the first sitting of a particular Parliament of Singapore. However, in most cases Parliament is dissolved and a general election called at the behest of the Prime Minister before the five-year period elapses. The number of constituencies or electoral divisions is not permanently fixed by law, but is declared by the Prime Minister prior to each general election pursuant to the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap. 218, 2011 Rev. Ed.), which governs the conduct of elections to Parliament, taking into account recommendations of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee. For the 2015 general election, there were 89 seats in Parliament organised into 13 Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) and 16 Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs). Each SMC returns one Member of Parliament while each GRC returns between three and six MPs, at least one of whom must be from the Malay, Indian or other minority communities. A group of persons wishing to stand for election in a GRC must all be members of the same political party, or a group of independent candidates. The voting age in Singapore is 21 years.

The election process begins when the President, acting on Cabinet's advice, issues a writ of election addressed to the returning officer. On nomination day, the returning officer and his or her representatives will be present at designated nomination centres between 11:00 am and 12:00 noon to receive prospective candidates' nomination papers, and political donation certificates certifying that they have complied with the requirements of the Political Donations Act (Cap. 236, 2001 Rev. Ed.). A person intending to contest in a GRC as a minority candidate must also submit a certificate confirming that he or she is a person belonging to the Malay, Indian or some other minority community. In addition, between the date of the writ of election and 12:00 noon on nomination day, candidates must lodge with the returning officer a deposit equal to 8% of the total allowances payable to an MP in the preceding calendar year, rounded to the nearest $500. For the 2015 general election, the amount of the deposit was $14,500. At the close of the nomination period, where there is only one candidate in an SMC or one group of candidates in a GRC standing nominated, the election is uncontested and the returning officer will declare that the candidate has or the group of candidates have been elected. Where there is more than one candidate in an SMC or more than one group of candidates in a GRC, the election is adjourned for a poll to be taken. The returning officer issues a notice of contested election which states when polling day will be; and information such as the names of the candidates, their proposers and seconders, the symbols allocated to candidates which will be printed on ballot papers, and the locations of polling stations.

Candidates can only mount election campaigns from after the close of nomination up to the day before the eve of polling day. No campaigning is permitted on the eve of polling day itself, which is known as "cooling-off day". Candidates can advertise on the Internet, conduct house-to-house visits, distribute pamphlets, put up banners and posters, and hold election rallies. Political parties fielding at least six candidates are allocated airtime for two pre-recorded party political broadcasts on radio and television, one on the day following nomination day and the other on cooling-off day. The amount of airtime granted depends on the number of candidates each party is fielding. The maximum amount which a candidate or his or her election agent can pay or incur for an election campaign is $3.50 for each elector in an SMC, or $3.50 for each elector divided by the number of candidates in the group standing for election in a GRC.

Polling day at a general election is a public holiday, and voting is compulsory. Unless the returning officer decides otherwise, polling stations are open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Voters must go to the polling stations assigned to them. After the poll closes, the presiding officer of each polling station seals the ballot boxes without opening them. Candidates or their polling agents may also affix their own seals to the ballot boxes. The ballot boxes are then taken to counting centres to be opened and the ballots counted. A candidate or his counting agent may ask the returning officer for a recount of votes if the difference between the number of votes for the candidate or group of candidates with the most votes and the number of votes of any other candidate or group of candidate is 2% or less, excluding rejected and tendered votes. After all counts, and recounts if any, have been completed, the returning officer ascertains whether the total number of electors registered to vote overseas is less than the difference between the number of votes for the two candidates with the highest number of votes. If so, the returning officer declares the candidate with the highest number of votes to be elected as President. If not, the returning officer states the number of votes cast for each candidate and the date and location where the overseas votes will be counted.

The most recent general election was held in 2015. The People's Action Party was returned to power to form the Government with 83 seats, while the Workers' Party of Singapore secured six seats by winning in Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC.

Group representation constituency

A group representation constituency (GRC) is a type of electoral division or constituency in Singapore in which teams of candidates, instead of individual candidates, compete to be elected into Parliament as the Members of Parliament (MPs) for the constituency. The Government stated that the GRC scheme was primarily implemented to enshrine minority representation in Parliament: at least one of the MPs in a GRC must be a member of the Malay, Indian or another minority community of Singapore. In addition, it was economical for town councils, which manage public housing estates, to handle larger constituencies.

The GRC scheme came into effect on 1 June 1988. Prior to that date, all constituencies were Single Member Constituencies (SMCs). Now, the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap. 218, 2008 Rev. Ed.) ("PEA") states that there must be at least eight SMCs, and the number of MPs to be returned by all GRCs cannot be less than a quarter of the total number of MPs. Within those parameters the total number of SMCs and GRCs in Singapore and their boundaries are not fixed but are decided by the Cabinet, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee.

According to the Constitution and the PEA, there must be between three and six MPs in a GRC. The precise number of MPs in each GRC is declared by the President at the Cabinet's direction prior to a general election. For the purposes of the 2015 general election, there were 13 SMCs and 16 GRCs, and each GRC had between four and six MPs.

Critics disagree with the government's justifications for introducing the GRC scheme, noting that the proportion of minority MPs per GRC has decreased with the advent of five-member and six-member GRCs. By having teams of candidates standing for election for GRCs helmed by senior politicians, the ruling People's Action Party has also used GRCs as a means for bringing first-time candidates into Parliament. Moreover, the GRC scheme is also said to disadvantage opposition parties because it is more difficult for them to find enough candidates to contest GRCs. Furthermore, it is said that the GRC scheme means that electors have unequal voting power, weakens the relationship between electors and MPs, and entrenches racialism in Singapore politics.

History of the Republic of Singapore

The history of the Republic of Singapore began when Singapore became an independent republic following an ejection from Malaysia on 9 August 1965. After the separation, the fledgling nation had to become self-sufficient, and faced problems including mass unemployment, housing shortages and lack of land and natural resources such as petroleum.

During Lee Kuan Yew's term as prime minister from 1959 to 1990, his administration curbed unemployment, raised the standard of living and implemented a large-scale public housing programme. The country's economic infrastructure was developed, racial tension was eliminated and an independent national defence system was created. Singapore evolved from a developing nation to first world status towards the end of the 20th century.In 1990, Goh Chok Tong succeeded Lee as Prime Minister. During his tenure, the country tackled the economic impacts of the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2003 SARS outbreak, as well as terrorist threats posed by the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) post–11 September and the Bali bombings. In 2004 Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, became the third prime minister.

List of Singapore-related topics

This is a list of topics that are related to Singapore, which is a sovereign city-state and island country in Southeast Asia. Singapore lies off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, 137 kilometres (85 mi) north of the equator. It consists of one large island and 60 significantly smaller islets. This list primarily includes Singapore-related topics that already have a Wikipedia article.

List of political parties in Singapore

This is a list of political parties in Singapore, including existing and historical ones. The earliest political parties were either branches of parent parties in Malaya, or were established in the lead-up to Singapore first Legislative Council elections in 1948. Amongst the oldest parties, the Malay Union, traced its history back to 14 May 1926, was initially a non-political association as the party only participated in the 1955 election. The Progressive Party and Labour Party, both established in the late 1940s, were some of the pioneering local establishments, with the PP the only party to contest in the first elections in 1948, and the LP coming on board in 1951. By 1955, the fledgling British colony had seven parties contesting, and reached a pinnacle of 13 parties in 1959. A total of three parties were established in the 1940s, 12 in the 1950s and five in the 1960s.

In post-independence Singapore, the dominance of the People's Action Party, which first came into power in 1959, somewhat cooled the flurry of political activism. On 16 May 1960, a new Societies Ordinance was passed, and in December 1966, local parties were forbidden from being affiliated to foreign ones. This directly impacting the handful of small Malaysia-linked parties, most of which renamed themselves and/or cut formal foreign ties. The PAP's dominance and Singapore's economic advancement further weakened the smaller opposition parties. To date, ten parties have officially dissolved, mostly through mergers with other parties.

Still, new parties continued to be established. Seven new parties were formed in the 1970s (including the Justice Party, Singapore and the United Front, the preprocessor of today's Democratic Progressive Party), two in the 1980s (the Singapore Democratic Party and the National Solidarity Party (NSP)), two in the 1990s (the Singapore National Front and the Singapore People's Party (SPP)), three in the 2000s, and as of now, three in the 2010s. The People's Voice Party was established on 31 October 2018 and Progress Singapore Party on 19 January 2019 , the latter is currently the newly registered political party. There are therefore a total of 31 registered political parties today, of which nine have never contested in an election.

Over the years, alliances between political parties existed, but were however short-lived. Presently, only one functioning multi-party alliance, the Singapore Democratic Alliance, which was formed on 3 July 2001, initially composed of the SPP, NSP, Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Singapura and the Justice Party, Singapore, with the SPP the lead party. The vision was to bring all opposition parties under one banner to counter the PAP's dominance, but it was met with limited success. The NSP left the alliance in 2007, and in 2010, the SPP itself left when there was internal disagreements over the SPP's attempts to bring in the newly formed Reform Party.

Next Singaporean general election

Singapore's next parliamentary general election must be held by 15 January 2021. According to the Constitution, the Parliament of Singapore's maximum term is five years from the date of the first sitting of Parliament following a general election, after which it is dissolved by operation of law. However, the Prime Minister may advise the President to dissolve Parliament before the five-year period is up, which had been suggested in late 2018. A general election must be held within three months after a dissolution of Parliament. Singapore uses the first-past-the-post system of election, and voting is mandatory. Elections are conducted by the Elections Department, which is under the Prime Minister's Office.

Politics of Singapore

The politics of Singapore takes the form of a parliamentary representative democratic republic whereby the President of Singapore is the head of state, the Prime Minister of Singapore is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the cabinet from the parliament, and to a lesser extent, the President. Cabinet has the general direction and control of the Government and is accountable to Parliament. There are three separate branches of government: the legislature, executive and judiciary, though not necessarily meaning that there is a separation of power, but abiding by the Westminster system.Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Parliament of Singapore. The legislature is the parliament, which consists of the president as its head and a single chamber whose members are elected by popular vote. The role of the president as the head of state has been, historically, largely ceremonial although the constitution was amended in 1991 to give the president some veto powers in a few key decisions such as the use of the national reserves and the appointment of key judiciary, Civil Service and Singapore Armed Forces posts. They also exercise powers over civil service appointments and national security matters.

Thomson Single Member Constituency

Thomson Single Member Constituency was a constituency in Singapore. It used to exist from 1959 to 1991 whereby it was absorbed into Thomson GRC.

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