A large majority of Yawning Bread readers would like to see Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) abolished, and comprehensive overseas voting catered for. There was also considerable support for lowering the voting age to 18 and introducing proportional representation.
This came out of the second Votker poll which opened for responses on 14 September morning and closed at midnight 19/20 September.
There were 283 responses. 271 were from Singapore citizens (95.8 percent), eight were from Permanent Residents (2.8 percent) and four were from persons who were neither (1.4 percent). I decided not to sift out the non-citizens, firstly because their numbers were small; secondly because this poll did not ask for voting intentions.
Thus, unless otherwise stated, all results below are based on 283 respondents.
As mentioned in the first Votker results article, as an anonymous, online poll, we must treat results with great caution. Approach them impressionistically, rather than fixate on the exact numbers or percentages. Note also that the sample population is very unlikely to be representative of all Singaporeans. The first Votker poll indicated that by and large, Yawning Bread readers (and poll participants) are opposition sympathisers.
Four of the ten questions enquired about significant changes to the electoral system: Voting age, overseas voting, abolishing GRCs and introducing proportional representation. In each of the bars below, its full length represents 100 percent, and each little box represents 10 percent. The redder the bar, the stronger the support for the mentioned changes.
My guess is that people have more definite opinions when they are familiar with something. Given that GRCs have existed for over 20 years and readers are probably tech-savvy, clear majorities are seen with Q2 and Q3.
With proposals calling for something new and untested (in Singapore) even though they are commonplace in other countries, opinion is more liquid. Thus for Q1 and Q6, “Strongly agreed” makes up only 30+ percent and 40+ percent respectively. There’s a still a majority in favour on both questions, but they comprise more of “Somewhat agree”.
Taken together, these four questions suggest unhappiness over the existing electoral system, and a desire to see some overhaul.
It’s all very well to say let’s abolish GRCs, but the People’s Action Party (PAP) justified it (20 years ago) by saying that it was needed to ensure minority-race representation in Parliament. Do readers consider this a valid angle?
Look how mixed opinion is. More interesting to me was how the non-Chinese pie resembled the Chinese pie, with the exception that 12 percent of the non-Chinese “Strongly agreed” with the view that the electorate was race-biased. (But since the sample size of non-Chinese was small — only 33 respondents — treat it with extreme caution.)
This suggests that the Chinese are slightly more likely to dismiss such concerns of bias and the non-Chinese slightly more cognisant of it.
Still on the question of GRCs, Question #5 asked what should be their maximum size, if we cannot do away with them altogether.
A thumping majority said they should not be larger than three-member GRCs. Almost nobody supported the current sizes of five- and six-member GRCs.
I don’t know why 11 percent said they had no opinion; perhaps they were so totally against the idea of GRCs, the size question seemed irrelevant to them.
Respondents might want changes to the electoral system, but has any of our opposition parties promised such? Or rather, which parties do poll respondents believe have promised such?
For his question, poll participants could check more than one party. Thus each bar represents the percentage (out of 283 responses) which checked the name of the respective party as having promised to change the electoral system. Once again, each little box represents 10 percentage points.
I found the results interesting. Not a single party scored above 50 percent. In fact, one third of respondents believed that no party has promised anything by way of radical change.
Is this because opposition parties have avoided addressing the issue? Or they have, but few people noticed?
The two parties that scored highest were Reform Party (49 percent) and Singapore Democratic Party (39 percent). These were the same two parties which in Votker Poll 1 scored best in terms of clarity of their positioning. I haven’t yet checked their manifestoes, so I can’t tell whether respondents really knew that these parties have proposed amendments to the electoral system, or whether they were merely imputing these intentions to RP and SDP.
Perhaps someone, in comments below, can clarify these parties’ stands.
Even more interesting was the response to Question #8. This tested what one might call the “cynicism factor” or “naivete factor”, depending on whether you’re the glass-half-empty or glass-half-full kind of person.
Three in four respondents failed to give a “strong” opinion, suggesting widespread doubt to one degree or another. In other words, participants didn’t fully trust opposition parties to behave all that differently from the PAP should they come into power.
Mind you, this ambivalent result is coming from a sample that is already sympathetic to opposition parties!
To review the survey form (no longer accepting responses) click on the thumbnail at right.