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Singapore dissolves parliament, sets polls on May 7

SINGAPORE: Singapore has called for general elections on May 7 as the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) seeks to win a new mandate after steering the city-state to a strong rebound from the recent global recession.

President S.R. Nathan dissolved parliament on Tuesday, clearing the way for the polls, which under the constitution must be held within three months of the dissolution.

“The president, on the advice of [Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong], has dissolved parliament on Tuesday, 19 April 2011,” a government statement said.

The last general elections were held in May 2006 in which Lee’s PAP won all but two of the 84 parliamentary seats.

Despite the landslide, its share of the popular vote fell to 67 percent from the 75 percent it garnered during the previous elections in 2001.

Analysts have said that rising living costs and unhappiness over the influx of foreign workers are likely to be the key issues at the polls.

Singapore’s economy rebounded strongly from the 2008 and 2009 global recession to post Asia’s fastest growth rate in 2010 at 14.5 percent.

But food costs have been rising and property prices heating up, prompting the government to introduce a series of measures to cool down the housing market.

In addition, lower-skilled Singa-porean workers have been complaining that the government’s policy on foreign labor has led to jobs being taken away from its citizens.

Singapore had a total population of 5.076 million as of June 2010, including 541,000 permanent residents and 1.305 million foreigners on employment passes, along with their families.

Singapore is admired worldwide for its speedy rise from a third-world port to one of Asia’s richest nations in just over 30 years, but it has also been criticized for restricting political freedoms.

Faced with little opposition, the PAP has returned to power in every election since 1959, when Singapore gained self-rule from Britain.


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