The PAP government is displaying signs of making preparations for campaigning, fueling speculation that an election might be held earlier than the May 2016 deadline. Regardless of when the election is held, the outcome is not seriously in doubt. The PAP has governed without interruption since 1965, and despite an increased occurrence of anti-government protests in recent years, it remains broadly popular, and has engaged in targeted populist policy-making to address the concerns voiced by protesters. Although the opposition WP can be expected to make some gains, the PAP’s majority status will not be threatened.
The PAP party conference held in early December saw a modest shakeup of the Central Executive Committee, but was most noteworthy for a speech delivered by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that focused on the alleged incompetence of the WP-controlled Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East town council, which was also highlighted in a recent national town council report. The prime minister’s verbal attack suggests that the PAP has no intention of fighting a defensive campaign, and plans to take the fight into the WP’s stronghold.
The economy performed better than expected during the third quarter of 2014, but remains vulnerable to a sharp falloff in external demand, a risk acknowledged in the official growth forecast for 2015, which sees the potential for a deceleration of real GDP growth to 2%, and a best-case scenario of 4% growth next year.