[The Angle] GE2015: What impact did new citizens have on the PAP’s vote share?Sep 18, 2015 at 4:47 pm | Hits: 18211
By Debbie Soon
The 9.8% swing in favour of the People’s Action Party (PAP) in the 11 September 2015 General Election in Singapore (GE2015) caught many by surprise.
Many online voices have suggested that new citizens – or those who became Singaporeans after GE2011 – played a large part in the percentage increase of votes for the PAP.
However, my calculations based on publicly-available national data and information at the time of writing suggest that citizens minted after the “watershed” 2011 General Election (GE2011) formed only some 2% of total voters in GE2015.
In my analysis, I have focused only on individuals who became new citizens after GE2011. The study of this group is critical to understanding if new citizens did indeed significantly contribute to the 9.8% increase in the PAP’s vote share, given that they would have been voting for the first time, while citizens who were naturalised earlier would have voted in 2011.
To get figures of new citizens to Singapore from 2011 to 2015, I compiled and extrapolated from the 2012, 2013 and 2014 releases of Population in Brief published by the National Population and Talent Division.
As the new citizens data for 2014 and 2015 are not yet available, estimates were made based on an upper and lower limit of Singapore admitting between 15,000 and 25,000 new citizens each year. This was based on the government’s statement in 2013 that it would keep to this specified range in the number of new citizens that would be brought in each year.
An age breakdown of new citizens was provided for the years 2012 and 2013 in the reports. To get the percentage of new citizens by age group for 2011, 2014 and 2015, we extrapolated the average of the percentages given for 2012 and 2013.
Figure 1: Age breakdown of new citizens
The numbers for 2011 and 2015 were then pro-rated from when the register of electors closed in 2011 leading to the general election, and were updated going into the GE2015.
This provided an estimated range of 44,201 to 50,749 new citizens who gained citizenship after GE2011, and were eligible to vote in 2015.
This range is a generous estimate as it does not account for new citizens that did not show up to vote at the ballot box. This includes new citizens who may have passed on, could not vote because they were unwell, or perhaps were overseas and unable to get to a voting station in that country.
To determine the influence of the vote of new citizens, we compared these new citizen numbers in two ways.
First, we matched the estimated proportion of new citizens to the total pool of eligible voters in GE2015. This gave us a range of 1.79 – 2.06% (or 44,201 to 50,749 people in relation to a total base of 2,462,926 electors).
Second, we looked at the ratio of estimated new citizens to votes gained by the PAP between GE2011 to GE2015 general elections. There was an increase of 367,029 of votes for the PAP between the two elections. If we make the bold assumption that all the new voters uniformly voted for the PAP, this works out to just 12.04–13.83% of that increase.
So, to conclude, this demonstrates that even if all new citizens who joined the ranks of the local electorate after GE2011 did indeed vote for the PAP, they would have contributed a maximum of some 2% to the total pool of eligible voters, and comprised not more than 14% of the increase in votes for the PAP between GE2011 and GE2015.
Figure 2: Calculating the impact of the New Citizen Vote
Debbie Soon is a Research Associate at IPS.
Top photo from Lee Hsien Loong’s Facebook Page.
Figures in 2014 and 2015 are estimates. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said at a press conference for the Population White Paper in January 2013 that Singapore will confer 15,000-25,000 citizenships annually going forward.
Source: Goh Chin Lian, “Goal: 15,000-25,000 new citizens a year,” The Straits Times, January 30, 2013.
The percentage of new citizens of voting age was derived from deducting voters aged 20 years and below off the total number of those that became new citizens in that year. It is estimated that 39.65% of voters are aged 20 years and below, according to an average of percentages between 2012 and 2013.
Sources: National Population and Talent Division, Population in Brief 2013, Accessed 17 September 2015
National Population and Talent Division, Population in Brief 2014, Accessed 17 September 2015
New citizens granted in 2013 and percentages by age group provided in the Population in Brief 2014, Table 16, p. 22.
New citizens granted in 2012 and percentages by age group provided in Population in Brief 2013, Table 16, p. 23.
Overall figure for new citizens granted in 2011 in Population in Brief 2012, Table 14, p. 31. Percentages were not found in Population in Brief 2012, but extrapolated out of an average of percentages provided in for 2012 and 2013. The percentage of new citizens of voting age was derived from deducting voters aged 20 years and below off the total number of those that became new citizens in that year. It is estimated that 39.65% of voters are aged 20 years and below, according to an average of percentages between 2012 and 2013.
Source: National Population and Talent Division, Population in Brief 2012, Accessed 17 September 2015.
Prorated from before Register of Electors closed on 1 February 2015. 25,000 and 15,000 x 31/365 days.
Source: Elections Department, Press Release, Certificate of Revised Registers of Electors, 2015, Accessed 17 September 2015.
Prorated from after Register of Electors closed on 1 January 2011. 15,777 x 364/365 days
Source: Elections Department, Press Release, Certificate of Revised Registers of Electors, 2011, Accessed 17 September 2015.
Source: Elections Department Singapore, Press Release, Total Votes Cast At General Election 2015, Accessed 16 September 2015.
Sources: Elections Department Singapore, 2015 Parliamentary Election Results, Accessed 16 September 2015.
Elections Department Singapore, 2011 Parliamentary Election Results, Accessed 16 September 2015.