Electoral Battles and Innovations: Recovering Lost Ground
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Chin, JU, Electoral Battles and Innovations: Recovering Lost Ground, Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong Years in Singapore, Institute of Policy Studies and NUS Press Singapore., B Welsh, J Chin, A Mahizhnan and TT How (ed), Singapore, pp. 71-82. ISBN 978-9971-69-409-8 (2009) [Research Book Chapter]
Goh Chok Tong led the Peoples Action Party (PAP) in three general elections (GEs) in 1991, 1997 and 2001. Like his predecessor Lee Kuan Yew, Goh won all three GEs, and in fact won all on Nomination Day when the opposition did not field enough candidates to win even a majority. During this period, Goh also introduced new electoral innovations that further cemented the PAP's rule and made it almost impossible for the opposition to win. This essay argues that Goh did not really change the nature of the PAP electoral campaign-the PAP fought ferociously for every vote even though victory was already assured on Nomination Day. All three GEs highlighted Goh's consultative style, in sharp contrast to the more authoritarian style of his predecessor Lee Kuan Yew, and it was this difference between Goh and Lee that cemented the PAP's victories. This allowed Goh to win back popular votes for the PAP, which had been declining when he entered office: in the 1980 GE, the PAP's share of the popular vote was 77.7 per cent; in the 1984 GE, 64.8 per cent, and in the 1988 GE, 63.2 per cent. This essay also argues that, given the institutional constraints imposed on the opposition, the only issue in each GE was the margin of victory. Goh's main task was to win elections and stop the erosion of support for the PAP, which he was able to accomplish. © NUS Press National University of Singapore. All rights reserved.
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