Singaporeans vote in polls expected to return ruling party

SINGAPORE (AP) — Wearing masks and plastic gloves, Singaporeans voted yesterday in a general election that is expected to return Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s long-governing party to power.

Senior citizens were the first to cast ballots as 1,100 polling stations across the city-state opened at 8am, with strict safety measures in place for Southeast Asia’s first national election since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Older voters were scheduled to vote early in the day as protection against the virus, and people being treated for COVID-19 or under quarantine at home were not allowed to vote. The health crisis and concerns over an economic recession will likely send voters opting for stability under Lee’s People’s Action Party (PAP).

It faces 10 small opposition parties that are contesting the 93 Parliamentary seats mostly on a one-on-one basis against the PAP. The opposition has said it does not want to govern, but urged the 2.65 million eligible voters to reduce the PAP’s overwhelming majority in Parliament and deny it a “blank check”.

The PAP has dominated politics since 1959, when Lee’s father, Lee Kuan Yew, became Singapore’s first prime minister and built the resource-poor city-state into one of the world’s richest nations during 31 years in office.

In 2015, the party won 69.9 per cent of the total vote and 93 per cent of Parliamentary seats.