Election surprises: The unpredictable swing of Singapore’s opposition votes

by Gilbert Goh

Singapore woke up to the expected news that Tharman will be the next President for six years, though many wondered how he received such a scintillating result of 70.4%.

Tan Kin Lian (TKL) – the noted opposition favourite – received 13.88% of the votes, enough for him to take back his deposit of $40,500.

Ng Kok Song (NKS), the newly introduced non-partisan candidate, shockingly received a vote count higher than TKL at 15.72%.

A second deposit loss would not only crush TKL but many opposition supporters who vouched to vote for him.

Many predicted a Tharman win but not in such gigantic proportion as that would mean a swing vote of almost 20% away from the opposition to the PAP-sanctioned candidate.

Opposition voters usually figure around 30% historically in most general elections, with the PAP side estimating to hover around 40%.

If it’s a Workers Party-endorsed candidate*, opposition supporters would probably swing their votes around him in the 40s-percentile numbers.

There are another 30% swing voters who vote according to the choice of candidates and other feasible factors such as precinct, current economic environment and personal reasons.

A 70% majority win for Tharman meant that the opposition swing votes would figure close to 20% or almost 500,000 voters.

NKS also took away much of the opposition votes meant for TKL as he represents a neutral figure who spoke well in most publicised events.

It’s safe to say that without NKS, TKL may receive another 10% more of the opposition votes.

However, the General Election is different from the Presidential Election as the day is from the night, and there is nothing of real significance attached to choosing a President who is primarily ceremonial.

Finally, I believe the high vote count for Tharman meant many opposition supporters swung their votes towards him or even NKS, leaving TKL with only 13.88% – quite a shockingly low percentage given the high-profiled personal endorsement by Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Tan Jee Say.

We estimated that TKL would receive at least 30% of the majority votes, but it was not meant to be.

It goes to show that opposition voters are also elastic and will swing according to the candidate profile and other tangible factors, especially in PE.

For the record, I voted for TKL.

This post was first published on Gilbert Goh’s Instagram post and reproduced with permission.

*Workers Party has stated clearly that it does not endorse Presidential candidates and supports an appointed ceremonial presidency.

Share this post via:
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments