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.
|Title of host publication||Political Parties, Party Systems and Democratization in East Asia|
|Editors||Liang Fook Lye, Wilhelm Hofmeister|
|Number of pages||25|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2011|