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Opposition wins big in Singapore by-election

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Lee-Li-Lian-Singapore-workers-Party-MPSINGAPORE, Jan 27 – Widely expected results of Punggol East single member constituency in Singapore, came in as a shocker since  Singapore’s opposition Workers’ Party won the by-election on Saturday with a surprising margin.

The victory of the opposition candidate Lee Li Lian brought the number of elected seats held by the Workers’ Party to seven, out of a total of 87 elected seats in the parliament.

Lee won 16,038, or 54.52 percent of the valid votes cast on Saturday, while Koh Poh Koon of the ruling People’s Action Party won 12,856, or 43.71 percent of the votes in the four-cornered fight on Saturday that also saw two other opposition candidates contesting.

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There were a total of some 31,600 registered voters in Singapore and 59 voters overseas. Singapore has a mechanism that encourages all voters to cast their votes and the voter turnout was 94.26 percent.

The by-election has been widely regarded as a test for the People’s Action Party, which has been the ruling party in the city state since 1959. It now still has 80 of the 87 elected seats in the parliament.

The People’s Action Party won 81 of the 87 elected seats in the general election in 2011, but it lost a group representation constituency for the first time since 1991 and the share of the popular votes it won fell to slightly above 60 percent.

The by-election was called after Michael Palmer, a lawmaker of the ruling party, resigned recently over an extramarital affair.

Observers had expected a close race, and some had believed that the other two opposition candidates might dilute the support for the Workers’ Party. Gillian Koh, senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policies, National University of Singapore, said that the results turned out to be “not all that close.”

The People’s Action Party, which faces pressure on topics such as immigration and population, has been trying to maneuver an obvious change in its direction to roll out policies in education and welfare that put Singaporeans first.

Lee had campaigned vigorously in the constituency this time, covering all the neighborhoods in the ward in her visits. She also put forward proposals that favor young couples raising children.