The Dawn of a New Political Era: Unpacking the 2023 Singapore Presidential Elections


6. The Presidential Election as a Leading Indicator for the Coming General Election

Despite Tharman’s insistence that his candidacy is not an endorsement of the establishment, the unspoken truth is clear: his landslide victory effectively bolsters the status quo. It seems inevitable that someone will soon say the quiet part out loud, casting his presidency in a light that rings truer than official narratives might suggest.

The PAP is obviously going to be studying ground sentiment to interpret how much of President Tharman’s victory might be relevant for the upcoming General Election.

But they should tread cautiously when extrapolating from the electoral results. Could the resounding support for “Typhoon Tharman” instill in the PAP an unwarranted complacency?

It’s worth noting that Tharman’s primary opponents were not political heavyweights; they were two older individuals with quirks that should have been electoral liabilities. Despite these perceived drawbacks, and in the absence of a significant campaign effort—including the lack of posters, rallies or even a youth-oriented social media strategy—one still managed to secure an astonishing 14% of the vote. That’s over three hundred thousand votes.

This unexpected performance merits serious reflection, particularly when considering what might have been possible had a more concerted effort been made.

Gauging Public Sentiment

The election results reveal a nuanced public opinion that the PAP should not overlook. Even with a candidate as strong as Tharman, only about 70% of the electorate sided with the establishment. The remaining 30% cast their ballots for figures who stood outside the mainstream, a statistic that is familiar, but should give the ruling party pause.

While not an exact predictor, the Presidential Election serves as a valuable indicator of the current political climate. The PAP should account for the “Tharman Effect” in its projections for its political future.

Such insights provide a window into the sentiments of an electorate that is increasingly complex and less likely to fall in line with traditional partisan loyalties.

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