Sunday, July 4, 2021

Most S'poreans say elections are fair, offer ‘genuine choice’ but 1 in 4 feels opposition candidates ‘prevented from running’: IPS report


JULY 02, 2021

A survey found that Singapore had the second-highest proportion of respondents who believe that genuine choices are offered to voters in elections, behind Taiwan.

  • A 2020 global survey that polled more than 2,000 Singapore respondents was analysed by IPS
  • It found that Singaporeans were among the most political apathetic and least politically active in the world
  • Most people said they had some, though not much, power to effect changes on government decisions or on politics
  • Most said elections are fair and viewed treatment of voters positively
  • Despite political apathy, Singaporeans do take part politically by signing petitions, donating to groups

SINGAPORE — Most people in Singapore are likely to believe that national elections are fair, that they have some say in what the Government does, and that they are given a genuine choice in the polls, findings by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) showed.
However, more than one in four people felt that opposition members are “very or fairly often prevented from running” at elections, the study found. This was lower than in Malaysia, Taiwan and Hong Kong where the figure was over 50 per cent.

The IPS researchers, which released the analysis on Friday (July 2), also found that more than a third of Singaporeans have never spoken to friends about politics and more than half have done so only occasionally. This makes Singapore one of the more politically apathetic countries among the 80 or so countries polled in the cross-national World Values Survey.

Source: Institute of Policy Studies

This is similar to the findings in an IPS previous report arising from the 2020 global survey.

Despite such apathy, Singaporeans do participate politically, the study found. More than one-fifth had donated to a group or campaign and searched for information about politics, though a third thought that they had no say in what the Government does given the political system here.

The study is the third one from IPS to analyse the data from the global survey, which involved more than 2,000 respondents in Singapore and was conducted between November 2019 and November 2020. The latest report focused on the lived experiences of people here.

On politics, the team of four researchers led by Dr Mathew Mathews concluded that political apathy does not mean that Singaporeans’ lived experiences are devoid of political actions, as can be seen from the findings that political actions such as donations, contacting government officials or signing petitions were more popular than organised protests or political events.

“But while they do participate politically, respondents are nuanced in their choice of political action… Such responses are not surprising considering the strict laws that Singapore has with regards to collective mobilisation and gatherings,” the report concluded.

However, the researchers stressed that the respondents were generally unwilling to take part in these activities.

Those who said that they would take part in more outward forms of political action — boycotts, peaceful demonstrations, illegal strikes, or online political activities and protests — were likely to be higher-educated people, possibly due to their more critical knowledge of politics, they said.

“Given the protest movements overseas, including sustained ones in Hong Kong between 2019 and 2020, it will be interesting to examine whether better-educated and younger Singaporeans expect an updating of current restrictions for such political action.”

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