The People’s Action Party and political liberalization in Singapore

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

In formal terms, Singapore seems to have all the trappings of modern representative democracy. And yet in practice, politics in Singapore appears to fall short of democratic ideals. In particular, the People's Action Party (PAP) has been in power since 1959, having within legal means secured advantage and dominance over other political parties, resulting in a stable one-party dominant state. To understand the nature of political competition in Singapore, this essay's analysis focuses on electoral resources, system, and strategy, the performance and relevance of the political opposition, and the culture of fear. In particular, the essay argues that several political innovations introduced over the last two or three decades — officially justified in terms that are supportive of democracy — have in reality made it even harder for opposition parties to succeed. These seemingly democratic changes must therefore be understood in terms of how they create and obscure new opportunities and resources for political control, increasing the PAP government's capacity and legitimacy to control more widely and deeply.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitical Parties, Party Systems and Democratization in East Asia
EditorsLiang Fook Lye, Wilhelm Hofmeister
PublisherWorld Scientific
Chapter4
Pages107-131
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9789814462587
ISBN (Print)9789814327947
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

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