2econdsight

"to rescue truth from beauty and meaning from belief"

GE: 3rd Tea Leaves Reading (Part 1 of 2)

2 Comments

WHERE NOW?
We first questioned [link] ‘proponents of an early GE (who) point to global, regional and local factors to support their prediction’, showing that PAP’s overriding considerations to time a GE rest on ‘the ground must be sweet’ and finding ‘enough candidates’.

We then explained [link] how a GE pre-50th National Day may serve for ‘history to write of fools relying on the vicissitudes of an electorate never so restless, so vocal to be grateful for a past long gone – but a future in peril’. With such vocal voters and a PAP seemingly bent on expending, nay, jettisoning all the trust built up by their founders, any ‘talent’ in her right mind would need more than an invite to tea with the PM to be persuaded to stand under a political banner in certain decline.

Furthermore, the Pioneer Generation Package & Fair Consideration Framework are not fully evaluated for their vote-buying impact. Hence, why would anyone think that PM Lee’s finger is already on the trigger?

GE SCENARIOS & STRATEGIES
We now move on to discuss some scenarios and strategies.

Scenario A – Increase in Parliamentary Seats to Contest

Without access to actual voter headcount, we use the Singapore Resident figures as proxy for this scenario.

Year

Total Population (’000)

Singapore Residents (’000)

MP Seats Contested

Average Residents per MP

1984

2,732.2

2,443.7

79

30933

1988

2,846.1

2,598.5

81

32080

1991

3,135.1

2,794.7

81

34502

1997

3,796.0

3,123.4

83

37631

2001

4,138.0

3,325.9

84

39594

2006

4,401.4

3,525.9

84

41975

2010 (Census)

5,076.7

3,771.7

n.a.

 –

2011

5,183.7

3,789.3

87

43555

2013

5,399.2

3,844.8

n.a.

 –

2016*

5,721.4

3915.0

to be announced

?

 Population data extracted from Dept of Statistics
*linear projection based on respective % increase from 2010 to 2013
^non-GE years

From a low of 30,933 SG residents in 1984, we increased to 43,555 per MP in 2011. A 41% increase – even as we become more educated, vocal and the world roundabout us becomes more complex. Regardless, the $200k we pay per MP far outstrips that 3 decades past. And unlike these latter-day part-timers raking in S$1mil for 2 speeches ($200k/yr x 5-year term), MPs then whilst less educated were mostly serving residents full-time, and not concerned with their own day jobs.

There is therefore a case for redrawing constituency lines to increase parliamentary seats. If we hark back to 1984, then we can look at 132 seats at the next GE. But that is highly unlikely. A figure of 100 may be more realistic. Or about 39,000 per MP. (Note: 1984 data is as far back as conveniently available.)

No need to jump the gun condemning any such increase as PAP’s efforts to better their chances. It is a neutral and, in my view, a welcome, necessary even, change to better serve citizens’ interest. The increase cuts both ways for all parties.

With more MPs, more views from segments that might be otherwise drowned out can be heard. A bigger pool of MPs will also mean more candidates from which to form the cabinet to focus more time on national, international issues without neglecting municipal ones.

That said, it would be naïve not to recognise that PAP stands to gain more on 2 counts; one, they have more resources to produce the requisite numbers and two, as incumbents, they can redraw constituency lines with demographic data to their advantage. But let’s not begrudge that small point as, ceteris paribus, Singapore’s national interests are better served with a larger pool of MPs. Who knows, the changing tide may be strong enough to negate PAP’s advantages. Maybe even work against it.

Scenario B – Smaller GRCs, More SMCs
Such a scenario, unlike the increase in seats, is borne of PAP’s realization that not only does a questioning electorate no longer buy in their time-worn rationale, GRCs can and will work to their detriment if not destruction under current political climate.

But trust the PAP not to admit to ‘flip-flopping’. See, they can only ‘flop-flip’ – when a policy, approach is a sure flop, then flip they will – but trust them to flaunt their flip as being responsive to calls for changes. Ha! Flop-Flippers!!!

Again, let’s not begrudge them their cheap thrill. Smaller GRC, more SMC can work to the Opposition’s advantage.

Scenario C – Role of MSM and Social Media
As a non-social media geek, I can only guess the obvious: MSM will play a decreasing role to Digital & Social Media. How the parties on both sides adapt to the new landscape matter more than ever. How they deploy  their resources must be informed by the demographic make-up at the point of the GE.

27.5% eligible voters are <35 and another 51.3% are 35-59 years old. The remaining 21.2% >60 are mostly unschooled and/or non-IT literate. So, how many will get their news via non-MSM?

Anyway, even the PAP must know that MSM has lost a critical chunk of credibility. Perhaps, to the extent that readers will not only disbelieve but instead believe otherwise what’s reported!

As for Digital Media, most dedicated websites are still at their kiddy-to-early-teen stage, with varying degrees of credibility. Further, social platforms like FB, Tweeters, Blogs etc, are all an enormous unknown, unaccredited mass. Each is as credible as the one who chooses to rate it in each instance. By sheer repetition alone, a view can gain ‘credibility’.

Competing parties must decide based on their audience, goals of each message and resources. Obviously, opposition parties are better off focusing on the digital forum without neglecting hardcopy media. The latter to mine the senior voters’ dissatisfactions over CPF, Healthcare, Transport and general cost of living issues.

Scenario D : Demographics
Again, without access to actual voter headcount, we will use the latest available data on Singapore residents.

AGE

20-29

30-49

50-64

>64

2010

519,800

1,251,600

743,700

338,400

2013

522,500

1,231,300

816,300

404,400

% Change

0.50%

-1.60%

9.80%

19.50%

Population data extracted from www.singstat.gov.sg

The obvious increased voter numbers are those ≥50; an additional 138,600 votes (or +12.8% for their cohort) since GE 2011 is not insignificant.  Making up about 41% of the electorate, their concerns over CPF and Healthcare issues can only be ignored at the politician’s peril. Parties need to delve deeper the data.

IMPLICATIONS

The scenarios are the 4 key ones that impact most on how parties and candidates will fight the next GE.

The first implication is that the Opposition must plan for more potential candidates. More than before, candidates must be attractive to each constituency on her/his own merit.

Secondly, increased seats contested, more SMC and smaller GRC will serve PAP’s own survival (foreknowledge advantage, bigger base to form cabinet) and instincts (the tide is turning against them) to remain the dominant party.

Thirdly, looking to how elections have been won in other countries may inform the message and media strategies to use as much as local relevant conditions will.

Finally, completely relook both the target audience composition, the message for each and how best to exploit the changed demographic landscape.

Overall, the Opposition parties never had it this good.

Writing as a pedestrian observer, the above observations are by no means exhaustive and any criticisms or contributions to the discussion are welcome. Please, just keep it civil.

In our 2nd part, we shall try to understand some key strategic possibilities.

2cents

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “GE: 3rd Tea Leaves Reading (Part 1 of 2)

  1. I have to say your series on this has me quite interested. I posted as Darren before. Am looking forth to the next one on this.

    Like

    • Hi, Darren.
      Thx very much for yr email and also interest in my blog. I reread yr earlier comments to refresh my memory.
      Looks to me like we share quite a bit on the ‘questions of our days’, the views and our preferred responses.

      Do you read TRE (tremeritus.com)? I would encourage you to. See, there has been tremendous, for lack of a better word, improvement in the articles published and commentators’ input.

      For e.g., recently, commentators ‘stumbled’ on a possible angle to tackle the CPF conundrum/impass. That has to do with Trust Laws. You just have to spend a week to suss out for yourself which articles and commentators are worth yr time. If you wish to, I can give you my 2cents’ recommendation.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s