Compared to the low number of hits for the People’s Action Party (PAP) videos introducing new candidates, Singapore Democratic Party videos do pretty well. One, featuring party leader Chee Soon Juan speaking in the Fujian language has 62,000 hits this evening. You may want to note that this video was uploaded to Youtube on 14 April 2011, whereas that of Foo Mee Har, who had the largest number of hits (about 4,000 on the same day) out of the seven PAP candidates’ videos embedded into my previous post, was uploaded three weeks earlier, on 23 March 2011.
Even this video featuring Vincent Wijeysingha and Chee Siok Chin, uploaded a week after Foo Mee Har’s on 31 March 2011 has reached 10,150 hits tonight.
P.S. You might want to act in response to the above appeal, and help any other party too that in your view deserves your support.
Like in previous elections, the online buzz is opposition-sympathetic. The difference in video viewership says it all.
Yet, despite new media being similarly excited in the 2006 general election, the actual result of the poll was very much within the range indicated by previous general elections. The People’s Action Party hauled in 66.6 percent of votes cast and garnered 82 out of 84 parliamentary seats.
In an earlier post Will the morning after see 86:1?, I wondered if things would be any different this time. Certainly, internet use would have increased through the intervening years. Social media is making its appearance this time around when it really didn’t exist the last time.
The internet is in a virtual tie with newspapers (36.3 percent versus 35.3 percent) as the chief means of tracking local political events and issues among voters aged 21 to 34, reported the Straits Times on 16 April 2011. This was based on a survey of 402 voters conducted via face-to-face interviews the previous month.
But before you get too excited, only 15.2 percent of this age cohort kept track of local political events and issues “often”, as you can see from pie chart above.
(All charts on this page were taken from the Straits Times)
Even more telling, in my view, were the results from another question in the survey, wherein 42 percent said they would not be disappointed if there was a walkover in their constituency. Another 26.9 percent were indifferent to the matter. That’s a total of 69 percent.
You could say that a large proportion of that 42 percent were probably supporters of the PAP. Every election since the late 1960s, this party has fielded candidates in every constituency and so whenever walkovers have happened, it has always benefitted them. Given this history, when people say they would not be disappointed with walkovers in their wards, you can deduce that they probably would have voted PAP anyway if there were a contest. They may be politically apathetic or politically opinionated, but in the voting booth, they will mostly be marking in favour of the PAP.
Th 26.9 percent who said they were indifferent may be described as the apathetic ones; they do not particularly care who represents them in parliament. How they will vote once in the voting booth is a good question.
On the other hand, the 31.1 percent who said they would be disappointed with a walkover would include a large number of opposition party supporters among them. That figure is close to what most political observers say is the bedrock of opposition support in Singapore: 25 percent.
Let me quickly touch on the last question featured here: Are you keen to vote in the coming election? 73.9 percent said Yes. At first sight, it may appear to contradict the 31.1 percent who said they would be disappointed to see a walkover. However, most Singaporeans would be able to guess what the 73.9 percent figure really means. We’ve had so many walkovers in the past, large numbers of people just want a chance to walk into a polling station and cast a vote. The act of voting is something they feel they’ve been deprived of; it doesn’t really represent political consciousness about parties and candidates.
The bottom line, reading this survey, is that only about 30 percent are deeply interested in the upcoming election.
No doubt, this survey by the Straits Times was only of the 21-34 age group. However, a survey done by the Institute of Policy Studies in 2006 found that there was no huge difference in political attitudes in terms of age. In the absence of a separate current survey about older voters, we can roughly assume that the splits described here apply more or less to the entire electorate.
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Thus, I do not see a lot of difference between the electorate sketched out by this survey and that which existed in 2006, new media notwithstanding, though I would love to be proven wrong. As political researcher Derek da Cunha recently described in a recent talk, about 40 percent are reliably pro-PAP, 35 percent swing voters and 25 percent reliably anti-PAP. Of course, these are very rough estimates and will vary somewhat from constituency to constituency.
Nevertheless, this is the uphill task facing opposition parties: How to get a majority in any constituency, starting with only 25 percent solid support and only a smallish bank of swing voters. If your heart lies with them, then please offer your help. Volunteer. Donate.