Singapore: Social Media, Youth, and Elections

Singapore’s youth sector will be a significant source of votes in the coming General Elections. This explains why political parties are also actively campaigning in the internet. The People's Action Party (PAP), which has been in power since 1959, is expected to face touch competition from several opposition parties. The last general elections were held in 2006. Below is a google map of rally venues created by ahmad:

在較大的地圖上查看Singapore GE 2011 Rally Venues

Aaron Koh explains why ‘Foursqaure check in’ is important in election rallies

The Workers’ Party (WP) saw the most Foursquare check ins at its rally on the first day of campaigning. Why is Foursqaure check in important? This is because those that check in are definitely smartphone users with mobile data connection. This means that they also make use of their smartphone as one of their key source of information. With the younger generation expected to be the “swing votes” for this year’s elections and with 82 out of 87 seats contested, it is important that the political parties planned their online strategies to get the message to these voters, even for the next General Elections five years down the road. By then, it will no longer be where they get the news, the question is how they get the news.

Yawning Bread analyzes how mainstream newspapers are covering the election campaign

…in the present era with the ubiquitous cellphone camera and rapid distribution channels that are well beyond blogs, such as twittering and Facebook, the old editorial policy is no longer viable. If the newspaper does not publish such pictures, others will, and its credibility can only suffer. Digital natives tend to dismiss the mainstream media. This is misplaced neglect. The days may be over when newspapers can be used to blatantly twist stories or allocate coverage to benefit the PAP, but there are subtle ways nonetheless to set an agenda favourable to the ruling party. That’s why it is still important to have a truly unbiased mainstream media, and why it is important to keep an eye on what they do.

Flaneurose uses census data to determine the importance of the youth vote

I am no pundit, and I lack mystical powers that allow me to read the sentiment on the ground. What I have however, is census data, and a belief that younger folks are more likely to want change, while older folks would prefer the status quo. Those Singapore citizens who were aged 40 and above back in year 2000 are now aged 50 and above. In every single region, they comprise a smaller percentage of that region's population today due to the effects of mortality. In contrast, those Singapore citizens who were aged 10-19 in year 2000 are now aged 20 – 29 and of eligible voting age. …in most geographical regions, they now do constitute a larger percentage of the population than in year 2000.

Aaron Ng sees the young generation as unpredictable and harder to please

Gen-Y Singaporeans, however, are a different breed. Politically, they are likely to be much harder to please. Gen-Y Singaporeans, by virtue of the fact that they are more educated, are more independent-minded and demand more from the government than their parents. Economic prosperity is not enough, and Gen-Y Singaporeans probably have a very different idea of economic prosperity compared to their parents. Socially and politically, Gen-Y Singaporeans, unlike their parents, are no longer contented to leaving things in the hands of the PAP, which has ruled Singapore since it achieved self-government from the British in 1959. Their voices are loud and clear on online platforms, their natural playground as they grew up with the Internet. Gen-Y Singaporeans are probably a lot more unpredictable than their parents, and political players need to start figuring out what makes the Gen-Y tick, how to connect with them and more importantly, how to get their vote because there will be even more of them in the next elections.

Ow Shi Hong is concerned about the political education of the young

I wonder if many Singaporean children and teenagers are politically uninitiated or ill-informed. More pointedly and plainly, I question if the typical Singaporean child and teenager is politically ‘neglected’ and left to learn politics informally through conversations, newspapers, blogs and so on. I say this because I shudder to imagine some Singaporean primary school student’s response – or lack thereof – to the question of “What is democracy?”

The Satay Club provides a rally roundup during the first week of campaigning

The election campaign kicked off in earnest with five parties holding rallies. The WP’s Hougang rally drew the biggest crowd, with an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 people turning up. Meanwhile, the newly-formed Reform Party held its first-ever election rally in West Coast GRC, and attracted a modest but respectable crowd that was estimated at being between 5,000 to 8,000. The ruling PAP kicked off its campaign at Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC – the stronghold of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, while the NSP and SDP held their rallies in Marine Parade GRC and Holland-Bukit Timah GRC respectively.

The opposition Workers’ Party gathered the biggest crowd but it does not guarantee more votes for them. Singapore Election Watch explains why

Here's my experience when I went down to the WP rally April 29. I talked to folks who were rooting for the WP. But what they said was troubling: Of the 6 people, 2 will vote for the PAP, 3 undecided, the last one wanted to spoil his vote. Amazing but true.

In the Beginning was the Logos… reacts to the speeches of opposition candidates

I guess what impressed me the most was the emphasis on providing housing, economic and environmental conditions suited for the raising of children. If housing and economic costs were too high, and working conditions too long to make possible the care and raising of children, then this country is pretty much doomed.

Pictures and videos of election campaigning are available in the websites of The Online Citizen, Singapore Politics, and Darren Soh. Global Voices recommends these election websites: Singapore General Election Portal, The Singapore Daily, Singapore Surf and GE 2011 Media


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