The Singapore government may have more to gain from encouraging opinion polls instead of restricting them. Done properly, they may provide valuable feedback.
The online pre-election study by the Australian company, UMR Research, proved remarkably prescient. It predicted a 6 per cent swing against the ruling People’s Action Party, forecasting a 61 per cent vote for the PAP. It actually got 60.1 per cent of the vote, down from 66 per cent in the 2006 elections.
How could the predictions be so right? The company surveyed 522 Singaporean voters online between May 3 and 5, ahead of the May 7 elections.
Only 48 per cent of the respondents viewed the Singapore government in a positive light.
In fact, the PAP had a more favourable image than the government.
Both the PAP and the opposition Workers’ Party were viewed positively by 55 per cent of the respondents.
The PAP, however, was expected to win 61 per cent of the votes. That’s more than the votes of those who saw it in a positive light. One possible reason: the other opposition parties’ lower approval ratings. None of them was viewed positively by more than 29 per cent of the respondents.
The survey report says:
The UMR surveys finds the PAP is in a strong position to win the election with a vote of
61%, well in front of the combined opposition (39%), however there has been a
decline in support for the PAP since the last election in 2006 with PAP support down by six points.
• Singapore voters are generally very upbeat and positive about the direction of the
country with 73% saying that Singapore is heading in the right direction and only a relatively small proportion (19%) saying Singapore is on the wrong track.
• However despite this optimism there are significant problems for the Singaporean government. The priority issues for voters are the cost of living and concerns about
government transparency and accountability. These two issues dominate voter concerns.
• Also while the Singapore government is judged positively on crime (81%), defence and national security (78%), and economic management (62%), there are serious areas of dissatisfaction.
• Singaporean voters are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the government’s handling of
issues such as the cost of living (73% dissatisfied), the levels of ministerial salaries
(68% dissatisfied) and housing affordability (69%).
• The government is also judged very negatively on the growing gap between the
wealthy and the poor (65% dissatisfied) and the level of salaries and wages (64%).
The Singapore People’s Party, National Solidarity Party and the Singapore Democratic Party were viewed positively by 28 per cent, 27 per cent and 26 per cent respectively. The figures were lower for the Singapore Democratic Alliance (19 per cent) and the Reform Party (17 per cent).
You can download the UMR Research poll findings here.