In a June 28 (Tuesday) Facebook post, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) highlighted how expensive elections are not only for candidates and political parties, but also for taxpayers.

The Elections Department (ELD) spent $30.3 million in the most recent General Election, held in July 2020, up from $23.2 million in 2015.

In 2011, the GE cost taxpayers $13.5 million, Minister Chan Chun Sing answered on behalf of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mr Chan noted that nearly $8 million was spent on safe management measures for GE2020.

Mr Giam had posed a Parliamentary question on May 9, 2022, about the expenditures for the last three GEs.

He added in his post that the sum Mr Chan quoted for organising and running GE2020 is “likely” to exclude “security, which would be under the Ministry of Home Affairs’ budget.”

Photo: Facebook screengrab/ Gerald Giam

“In Singapore, elections are required by law to be held approximately once every five years but can be called much earlier if the incumbent PM so chooses. 

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This may confer an advantage on the incumbent, who can call elections when the ground is ‘sweet’ for his or her own party. 

Be that as it may, an incumbent PM will do well to have an eye on the costs of organising and running an election, should he or she decide to call early elections,” wrote the Aljunied MP.

Mr Chan added in his answer that “Across elections, expenditure will fluctuate depending on manpower, info-communications technology, transport, and other logistical needs.

For example, GE2015 was fully contested unlike GE2011, and more election officials were deployed. Higher logistics costs were also incurred as election equipment such as polling booths and counting tables were due for replacement.

In GE2020, which was held during the COVID-19 pandemic, almost $8 million were spent on safe management measures.”

And for candidates, elections are definitely costly, with the People’s Action Party (PAP) having deeper pockets than its rivals.

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The ELD said in August 2020 that the 192 people who had contested in GE2020 spent $9.16 million in total.

Most of this was spent on advertising.

The candidates from the ruling party spent $6.97 million, while the opposition candidates spent $2.19 million.

The total amount of $9.16 million spent by candidates was a significant increase from the $7.1 million candidates spent in GE2015. /TISG

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