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Clientelism and Control: PAP’s Fight for Safety in GE2015

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Abstract

This article looks at the reasons the People’s Action Party (PAP) secured its decisive victory in the 2015 general election. The discussion examines the impact of the campaign and pre-election period on voting behaviour. While the opposition’s performance before and during the campaign reactivated its core supporters, the PAP’s control of the political narrative, rejuvenation of its grassroots machinery and effective use of resources provided an advantage that was instrumental in their electoral success. Most Singaporeans had decided how they would vote before the campaign began. Despite perceptions that the election was about the economy and the nationalist rhetoric associated with Singapore’s 50th anniversary and the passing of statesman Lee Kuan Yew, the argument in the paper suggests that the 2015 election provides insights into the breadth of clientelist politics in Singapore and how important state patronage and the control of the state are for holding on to political power in the city-state.

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