All 93 seats will be contested in 'crisis election'

All seats will be contested in the upcoming general election, which takes place amid a global pandemic and a time of crisis.

Nomination Day saw a total of 192 candidates file papers to contest all 93 seats in 17 group representation constituencies and 14 single-member constituencies.

The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) is the only party fighting for every seat, while the leading opposition Workers' Party (WP) is fielding 21 candidates this time around, fewer than the 28 in 2015.

The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has the largest contingent among the opposition, with 24 candidates in its maiden outing.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday described the July 10 polls as a "crisis election" - one that can change the course of history.

"As our manifesto puts it, what's at stake is our lives, our jobs, our future. Everything depends on which government you choose and the mandate that you give it," he said.

While there can be a "flight to safety" by the electorate, he acknowledged that this "is not the happiest of times", with people hard hit by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Noting that every constituency is being contested this time, he said: "So this is not a by-election, it's a general election for the most important issues concerning the country at a moment of crisis, and I think everybody needs to understand that."

While the PAP has called on voters to give it a strong mandate, WP chief Pritam Singh said his party will face an uphill battle, especially in the light of restrictions on campaigning due to Covid-19.

In a clear drawing of battle lines, Mr Singh again warned of the possibility of a clean sweep by the ruling party, while PSP leaders called on voters to bring an end to the PAP's "super majority" in Parliament.

In response to suggestions that the election might see the PAP wiping out the opposition, PM Lee pointed out that the Non-Constituency MP (NCMP) scheme guarantees there will be a "significant opposition presence" in Parliament. The scheme - amended in 2016 - provides for at least 12 opposition MPs with full voting rights in the House, up from nine, even in the event that the PAP wins all seats.

There were six elected opposition MPs and three NCMPs in the 13th session of Parliament.

The ruling party kept some cards close to its chest till Tuesday, springing last-minute surprises by deploying key fourth-generation ministers in constituencies that are expected to be hotly contested.

The Straits Times

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