Singaporeans wearing masks and gloves were lining up to vote Friday under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is driving the city-state economy into its worst recession, making job creation the center of the election .
In power since independence in 1965, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) is expected to lead Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to another comfortable and probably final victory.
Dressed in face masks, election officials enforced safe distance rules and took the temperature of voters when they entered polling stations, with the morning session primarily for the elderly to avoid overcrowding.
While officials hoped that voters would take no more than five minutes to vote, lines initially formed outside some polling stations, where people said they waited until an hour.
“Given the conditions, I wonder if it is worth risking my health just to exercise my voting rights,” said Joseph Lim, 41, a technology professional, although voting is mandatory in Singapore. .
The Election Department said the queues were partly due to additional security measures and had receded by mid-morning.
Lee, the son of Singapore founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, has served as Prime Minister since 2004, but at 68, has already announced plans to retire in the coming years. He asked for a new mandate to deal with the virus epidemic and its economic fallout.
Considered a measure of approval for both the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis and the next generation of leaders, the survey results will be closely watched as even small changes in the popularity of the PAP can lead to changes major policies.
When concerns about immigration and jobs exploded in 2011, the PAP garnered a record 60% of the vote and tightened international hiring rules to respond to voter sensitivity.
As the Asian trade and finance hub emerges from isolation to face its deepest recession, these concerns are once again in the foreground.
The counting of samples is expected shortly after the close of polling at 8 p.m. (1200 GMT) with final results expected on Saturday morning.
A record of 11 parties compete. Political analysts say that opposition parties tend to oppose the domination of the PAP rather than to propose a viable alternative government.
Since the easing of its lockout last month, the number of new daily cases in Singapore has dropped to double digits last week, excluding migrant workers living in dormitories where infection rates have been much higher .
Singapore is not the first country in Asia to hold elections during the pandemic – South Korea held parliamentary elections in April. Social distancing rules limited campaigns and no party rallies were allowed.
However, there are only 2.65 million voters in Singapore, and election officials counted on a swift and hygienic vote to minimize the risk of infection.
Voters must self-scan identity cards, disinfect their hands, and put on disposable gloves before receiving a ballot.
Singapore has one of the lowest COVID-19 mortality rates in the world and was first widely praised for its efforts. But the massive outbreaks that followed in the cramped dormitories of migrant workers tarnished this early success and persuaded the government to keep schools and businesses closed longer.
The restrictions have led to greater political debate and online engagement.
“This election was great because more people are interested and involved in the discussions, especially on social media,” said Suhaila Shaikh, 27.
(With the exception of the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)