Singaporeans vote in snap election under coronavirus cloud
Singaporeans started voting in a snap on Friday election with the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) looking to shore up its dominant position on the island it has governed since independence in 1965.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called the election on June 24, saying the PAP, which had 83 of the 89 seats in the last parliament, needed a fresh mandate in order to take Singapore through the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Many of the earliest voters were the elderly, who were advised to vote when polling stations opened at 8am (00:00 GMT) under strict conditions imposed as a result of the coronavirus.
Everyone is required to wear masks, and voters are expected to spend no more than five minutes in a polling station, where they must scan their identity cards, sanitise their hands and put on disposable gloves before receiving a ballot paper. Singapore has 2.65 million eligible voters.
COVID-19 patients and those under quarantine cannot vote, but a mobile polling team will bring the ballot box to the rooms of Singaporeans who have recently returned from overseas and are in isolation at hotels.
Singapore is not the first country in Asia to hold elections during the pandemic – South Korea held parliamentary elections in April – but strict conditions related to the virus have further constrained campaigning.