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EXPLAINING ELECTIONS IN SINGAPORE: DOMINANT PARTY RESILIENCE AND VALENCE POLITICS

  • Steven Oliver and Kai Ostwald
Abstract

The People's Action Party (PAP) of Singapore is one of the world's longest ruling dominant parties, having won every general election since the country's independence in 1965. Why do Singaporeans consistently vote for the PAP, contrary to the expectations of democratization theories? We argue that valence considerations—specifically, perceptions of party credibility—are the main factor in the voting behavior of Singapore's electorate, and are critical to explaining the PAP's resilience. Furthermore, we argue that the primacy of valence politics arose in part by design, as the PAP has used its control of Singapore's high-capacity state to reshape society and thereby reshape voter preferences towards its comparative advantages. We use a multi-methods approach to substantiate this argument, including a comprehensive quantitative analysis of recent elections. Ultimately, our findings suggest that a focus on valence politics can increase the resilience of dominant parties, but that such a strategy also faces natural limits.

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Corresponding author
(corresponding author, kai.ostwald@ubc.ca)
References
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Journal of East Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 1598-2408
  • EISSN: 2234-6643
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