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Singapore ruling party, stung by poll setback, faces succession questions


SINGAPORE – Singapore’s ruling party, stung by its worst ever election results, on Saturday signalled a possible delay to its meticulous succession plans, and analysts foresaw other policy changes that could affect the international business hub. ,

The People’s Action Party secured 83 of 93 parliamentary seats in Friday’s election – a resounding win by international standards – and its share of the popular vote dropped near a record low, while the opposition won an unprecedented 10 seats.

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The results showed “a clear desire for a diversity of voices,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told an early morning news conference. “Singaporeans want the PAP to form the government but they, and especially the younger voters, also want to see more opposition presence in parliament.”

Stability and predictability define Singapore’s politics, dominated by the PAP since independence in 1965, proving crucial in developing the city-state into a global finance hub and regional trading centre.

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But analysts said the unexpected setback for Lee’s party likely means tighter rules on foreign employment and other changes to social policies to assuage concerns raised by opposition parties.

“Policymakers will have a tighter line to walk on foreigners in the labour force and to double-up efforts on the economic wellbeing of lower-income groups,” said Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB Private Banking.

In 2011, when the PAP polled a record low 60% of the popular vote, it tightened international hiring rules to address voters’ sensitivities. Voters in Friday’s election had also expressed concern about their job prospects and whether their wealthy, small island needs so many foreigners in top paid roles.Reuters

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