Let’s start a conversation about Singapore’s electoral system

TL;DR? Singapore’s parliament is really unrepresentative of the way people have voted compared to other countries’ parliaments. Instead of (or in addition to) speculating about which GRCs will shrink or disappear, let’s start thinking about switching to proportional representation. The PAP might improve their vote share; the opposition will increase their seat share; we get a more representative parliament. Everybody wins, right?

For some time I’ve been thinking about how Singapore’s politics might change in the coming decades. Here, my focus is electoral politics—the formal, institutionalised politics of political parties, voting, and elections. (I’ll treat things like inter-election parliamentary politics, and socio-political contestation from civil society/social movement organisations as a separate issue.) It’s topical, given that elections are just around the corner. But I’d like to take a step back from elections and examine our electoral system itself. Here, I’ve thrown together a bit of evidence which indicates that at least according to one simple measure, Singapore’s electoral system—the set of rules which transform voters’ preferences into representation in parliament—is fairly unrepresentative compared to other similar systems around the world. Moreover, the evidence suggests that Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs)—the mega-constituencies that send four to six party-list members to parliament—themselves are not to blame for the opposition’s sorry state. Because of that, I think we shouldn’t just look at having smaller GRCs; rather, more radical alternatives should be considered—namely, some form of proportional representation.