August 28, 2011 in Nation/World

Support wanes for Singapore party

Associated Press

SINGAPORE – Former Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan won a narrow victory to become the country’s seventh president, officials said today, a sign that the popularity of the Southeast Asian city-state’s ruling party is eroding.

The 71-year-old Tan received 35 percent of about 2.1 million votes in Saturday’s election, edging former member of parliament Tan Cheng Bock by just 7,269 ballots in the four-candidate race.

The election was Singapore’s first contested vote for president – mainly a ceremonial position in the country’s parliamentary government – since 1993.

Analysts were closely watching the performance of Tan, who was backed by most of the political establishment, as a barometer of voter discontent with the ruling People’s Action Party, which has held power since 1959.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the People’s Action Party did not officially endorse Tan, but Lee praised Tan last month and didn’t mention any of the other three candidates.

In May, the party’s vote total in parliamentary elections fell to 60 percent – its lowest since Singapore split from Malaysia in 1965 – amid a backlash against soaring housing prices, a surge in foreign workers and greater income inequality.

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