SINGAPORE (July 17): After a week of intense hustings — mostly over online platforms —Singaporeans woke up to a familiar headline on the morning of July 11: the People’s Action Party (PAP) had once again formed the government.

The difference this time was that the Workers’ Party (WP) enjoyed a significantly expanded presence in the next Parliament with its record of 10 seats. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, somewhat ruing over the 61.24% vote share — the second lowest level garnered — acknowledged the desire of many Singaporeans for more alternative voices. WP leader Pritam Singh maintained a cautious tone, invoking the analogy of “waking the sleeping giant”.

To Leonard Lim, the Singapore country director for regional consultancy firm Vriens & Partners, the results of the polls signal “a new normal in Singapore politics”. This shows that “the previous narrative of voters responding largely to bread-and-butter concerns may no longer hold water”. He adds: “It’s a much more sophisticated electorate, one that isn’t afraid to send a signal to the PAP about its displeasure over the government’s performance even when economic worries weigh heavily on their minds.”

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