The 2020 Singapore General Elections is the most unique yet.
There are 11 parties contesting this year — the most in Singapore’s history. And for the second time since Singapore’s independence, all 93 parliamentary seats will be contested. Covid-19 has also diminished any chance of physical rallies, which have now been replaced with online broadcasts. All of these changes are pretty mind-boggling, especially when the pandemic and BLM movement have, for good reason, dominated every news and social media outlet, shifting our focus from the movements in local politics.
So we’ve put together an all-you-need-to-know guide to GE2020 below — which covers everything from the political parties, electoral boundaries, timeline, voting process, where to watch the online broadcasts, where to watch the online broadcasts, notable candidates to follow, and more reading resources for deeper insights — to help you make an informed decision in the shortest amount of time.
The Political Parties
Behold, the longest list of political contestants Singapore has ever seen:
- National Solidarity Party (NSP)
- The People’s Action Party (PAP)
- The People’s Power Party (PPP)
- The People’s Voice (PV)
- Progress Singapore Party (PSP)
- Red Dot United (RDU)
- The Reform Party (RP)
- Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA)
- Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)
- The Singapore People’s Party (SPP)
- The Workers’ Party (WP)
If you only have five minutes to catch up on what these Parliament hopefuls have been up to thus far, AsiaOne has a TL;DR guide that covers key points, which includes a little bit of background and a little of updates, for each party.
Should you have more time and interest in learning about them, journalist Kirsten Han of political education platform We, The Citizen has read every single political party’s manifestos and broke down key points in an impressive spreadsheet — so you don’t have to.
New Electoral Boundaries
As of March 13, there are now 31 electoral divisions — up from 29 in the last election — consisting of 14 Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) and 17 Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs). You can find out which SMC or GRC you belong to with your postal code via the Elections Department Singapore’s website here. Looking for a one-stop map that shows you where each party is contesting? This brilliant interactive map does just that.
- March 13: Electoral Boundaries report released
- June 23: Parliament dissolved; Writ of Election issued
- June 30: Nomination Day
- July 9: Cooling-off day
- July 10: Polling Day
Once the polls are closed, the ballot boxes will be sealed and transported to counting centres on the night of Polling Day. Then, sample counts will be performed, by machines, as an early indication. Counting of votes may continue into the early hours of the next day. The Returning Officer will make public the final election results, which will be published in the Singapore Government Gazette.
You can expect the new elected parliament to have its first sitting within six months of when the last parliament last met, which was on March 25.
The Voting Process
Where to vote
A poll card will be mailed to you stating the address of your designated polling station along with your allotted voting time slot. You can also access this via the e-Poll card on your Singpass mobile app.
All time slots are two hours long. But if you’ve missed yours, you can still vote anytime between 12pm to 8pm. Seniors are designated voting times between 8am to 12pm.
On Polling Day
Before heading to the polling station
To minimise risk of overcrowding, you can check the queues online via VoteQ Go Where. Bring along your NRIC or passport, along with a pen so you can avoid using the one provided at the polling booth.
At the polling station
Your temperature will be screened. Then comes electronic registration. Lower your mask and show your photo on your identification card to the election official. Scan your IC to register. There is no need to check in via SafeEntry.
Move along to the next station and collect your ballot paper. Sanitise your hands and put on disposable gloves to prevent contamination of the ballot slips.
How to vote
To cast your vote, mark your choice with an ‘X’ on one of the empty boxes on your ballot paper. Only an ‘X’ will be accepted. A tick will render your vote spoilt. Then, fold your ballot paper and drop it into the box.
Exit the polling station
Dispose of your gloves, sanitise, and leave immediately.
Where to watch the action
Broadcasted over television, radio, and digital streaming platforms, the #GE2020 coverage is no less comprehensive, even during compromised times. Read below for where to watch all the action, or head here for more information.
Party Political Broadcasts
Political parties fielding at least six candidates will take to television and radio to state their cause on Party Political Broadcasts (PPB). These have aired on 2 July, and will air once more on 9 July, from 8pm onwards, in all four national languages. You can tune in to the following channels at the following times:
8pm: Channel 5, Class 95, Gold 90.5, CNA YouTube channel, CNA Facebook page, Channel 8, Capital 958, 8world.com
8.30pm: Suria, Warna 942
9pm: Channel News Asia, CNA 983
9pm: Vasantham, Oli 968
11.30pm: Channel U
Each party’s allocated amount of airtime is determined by the number of candidates it fields. Here’s the time allocation to note:
Reform Party (six candidates): 2½ minutes
National Solidarity Party (10): 3 minutes
Peoples Voice (10): 3 minutes
Singapore Democratic Party (11): 3 minutes
Workers’ Party (21): 4.5 minutes
Progress Singapore Party (24): 5 minutes
People’s Action Party (93): 13 minutes
Constituency Political Broadcasts
Constituency Political Broadcasts, or CPBs, are new to General Elections, and are substitutes for physical rallies. These are pre-recorded broadcasts, where Single Member Constituency (SMC) candidates get three minutes of airtime to appeal to voters. Teams going against a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) with four members get 12 minutes, while those contesting a five-member GRC get 15 minutes. Candidates can choose to speak in any of Singapore’s four main languages. These will be broadcast based on the alphabetical order of the constituency.
These start from July 3 from Friday to Wednesday (July 8), from 7pm, and will air on Channel 5.
Notable candidates this year
As for candidates, this year’s is an exciting mix. In a headline-making move, the prime minister’s younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang, joined the opposition Progress Singapore Party. We’re also seeing promising minority candidates who have extensively worked with migrant workers and sexual abuse survivors, and are speaking up about their struggles with poverty and homelessness.
In this list here, we highlight 10 notable candidates to follow on social media. These include Worker’s Party Dr Jamus Lim, who charmed everyone with his intelligence and eloquence at the General Election Debate; People’s Action Party’s Mr Mohd Fahmi Aliman, who champions the welfare of low-wage workers in essential services; and Progress Singapore Party’s Terence Soon who believes that youths should be enabled to start their own businesses too.
Elections Department Singapore
The Elections Department Singapore website is a no-brainer for anyone looking for basic information on the elections. Head here to find out your electoral division, about the voting process, and guidelines.
We The Citizens
Going through the various manifestos of different political parties is often time-consuming and confusing, particularly for the first-time voter. Thankfully, journalist and activist Kirsten Han has put together a comprehensive spreadsheet outlining each party’s manifesto. These are categorised according to various social issues, ranging from labour, media and the arts, to civil liberties and education.
The LGBTQ+ community has long been systemically disadvantaged, and the different political parties have varying stances on its issues. Heckin Unicorn has has highlighted each party’s perspective here, as well as how their manifestos will affect the community.
If climate change is your central issue, Greenwatch highlights how the three biggest parties (PAP, WP, and SDP) tackle this via a scorecard ranking policies related to transport, electricity, and the fossil fuel industry.
An essential reading list
Education about Singapore politics is crucial step to take, especially for first-time voters. One way to do so is to read books that offer insight and commentary on our political plight throughout the years. Head here for an essential reading list.