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GE may not be held this year but opposition parties “need to start preparing early” – Political analyst

"There is absolutely no reason to think that the opposition is preparing too early. Considering how short the time is for nominations and campaigning, they need to start early," said historian Prof Michael Barr

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Historian Michael Barr has said that he is not convinced that the next Singapore General Election (GE) will be called this year, in a recent interview with Yahoo Singapore. He, however, added that opposition parties need to start their preparations for the GE early since there is limited time between when the elections are called and Nomination Day.

Prof Barr, who serves as an Associate Professor teaching International Relations at Adelaide’s Flinders University, has written and commented extensively on Singapore politics and history. He has published several books on Singapore’s ruling elite and continues to take a keen interest in Singapore politics.

Speaking to Yahoo Singapore, Prof Barr indicated that he does not think the next GE will be called this year.

Although many Singaporeans have speculated that the next election – which must be held by 15 April 2021 – could be called as early as this year, there are no clear indications that the GE will take place in 2019.

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The clearest indication of when the GE might occur would be the formation of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC), which decides how electoral wards should be drawn or altered. The Prime Minister usually convenes the EBRC, which typically takes 2-4 months to decide on how the electoral wards should be re-drawn.

While some speculate that the next GE would be called in September 2019, this may be unlikely since the EBRC would need a few months to decide on the drawing of the electoral map, once convened. It is also unlikely that an election will be called at the end of the year, due to the school holiday period.

Even though the date of the next GE remains unclear, Mr Barr says that the early actions by some opposition parties in Singapore will be advantageous to them. He told Yahoo:

“There is absolutely no reason to think that the opposition is preparing too early. Considering how short the time is for nominations and campaigning, they need to start early.”

This past weekend was a busy one with both the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) holding major campaign events. The PSP had its official launch and the SDP identified the wards it plans to contest.

Murdoch University’s Associate Professor Terence Lee echoed Prof Barr’s views. He told the Yahoo Singapore:

“Election campaign periods (in Singapore) are very short, making each election effectively a snap poll. This gives opposition parties a very short lead time to campaign.

“For this reason alone, it is important for the opposition, and indeed the People’s Action Party, to ‘work the ground’ early. If they emerge from the shadows too close to nomination day, they get accused of being opportunistic.” -/TISG

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