The Political Parties In Singapore Politics
Ever since 1959, there has been only one dominant ruling political party - the Peoples Action Party. The Peoples Action Party was formed in 1954 by a group of English-educated university graduates who had completed their tertiary education in the United Kingdom. This group included Lee Kwan Yew and Lim Chin Siong. The two men had ideological differences but both aimed to obtain independence for Singapore.
In 1955, Lim Chin Siong was elected as Assemblyman for the Bukit Timah constituency. At the age of 22, he was and remains the youngest Assemblyman ever elected in the country's history. Lim Chin Siong was eventually accused of being a Communist, as a result of which he was imprisoned without trial for years. Lee Kwan Yew went on to become Singapore's first prime minister, governing for three decades.
On 16 May 1960, Societies Ordinance was erected to disallow local parties to be to foreign ones. The movement forced the parties with relations to Malaysia to be dissolved or weakened drastically by cutting any formal ties (Attorney General's Chambers, 2011).
Having only one ruling political party allowed the Singapore government to rapidly develop the country's economy. The political stability that the country enjoyed helped attract multi-national corporations and foreign investors. The multi-national corporations helped train Singapore employees, thereby improving the quality of the workforce, which in turn attracted more foreign investors to the country.
The influx of foreign capital enabled Singapore to build up its reserves and spend on improving infrastructure as well as the quality of life for its people. As a result of the rapid economic, political and social development, Singaporeans were largely content to have the People's Action Party as the only ruling political party. The People's Action Party continued to win the majority of the contested seats in the Parliament of Singapore for each election.
However, things have begun to change. With increasing resentment over the rising cost of living, ageing infrastructure, and the large number of foreign nationals now living in the country, the People's Action Party has seen approval ratings decrease. In the recent 2011 election, the People's Action Party won only 60.1 percent of votes, the lowest yet since the 1968 election (Singapore Elections Department, 2012).
The Workers' Party has emerged as a major political party, winning 12.83 percent of votes and six out of the 87 contested seats in parliament in 2011 (Singapore Elections Department, 2012). Founded in 1957 by Singapore's former Prime Minister David Marshall, the Workers' Party remained a small and relatively insignificant political party until 1971, when it was revived by J. B. Jeyaretnam and his group of lawyers (The Workers' Party, 2013). Having only one dominant major political party may soon become a thing of the past for Singapore.
Unlike Singapore, the United States is dominated by a two-party political system. These two parties are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. As the oldest American political party, the Democratic Party was formed in the early 1830s. It was founded on Jacksonian democracy, a political movement promoting greater democracy for the common white man.
The Democratic Party believes in freedom of speech for everyone. It adopts a more liberal stance than the Republican Party. The Democratic Party controlled the White House from 1930 to 1994, with two brief interruptions.
The Republican Party is the second oldest existing American political party after the Democratic Party. Founded in 1854, the Republican Party abolished slavery and dominated the American political scene from 1860 to 1932. Using the social networks of churches to sign up voters, the Republican Party strongly opposes slavery, polygamy and alcoholism.
With a two-party political system in place, the majority of American voters are not consistently loyal to either political party. They may choose to vote for the Democratic Party in one election and the Republican Party in another. Who voters vote for largely depends on who is running for president, his/her stance on important issues, and the state that the American economy and society is in.
Thus, the political parties in Singapore and the United States are very different. Political parties in Singapore are not strongly connected to religions since there are many different religions in Singapore and all religions are to be respected. Furthermore, Singapore is a much younger country than the United States so the issues that the ruling political party has to deal with will be very different. Freedom of speech and individual rights are also not emphasised in Singapore, and are sometimes sacrificed for the sake of harmony. Because of the stark differences in the two countries, Singaporean and American political parties have to be very different in order to become the ruling political party.
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