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Lessons from PAP's defeat in Punggol East

COMMENT When the votes were counted in this seat of 31,600 voters, the incumbent PAP had experienced an embarrassing loss - the opposition Workers' Party took the seat decisively with a 10.8 percent margin, winning 54.5 percent of the electorate. This was a whopping 13 percent increase in its share of support from the 2011 general election.

This is now the second by-election in two years where the dominant PAP has experienced difficulties at the polls, and the overall trend is one of erosion of support that is gaining momentum.

The Punggol East by-election - in a seat where the PAP had the advantages of incumbency and resources at its disposal - is perhaps the clearest sign that the party is in trouble. Not only is Singapore moving toward a more pluralistic political system, the ruling party is losing ground electorally, particularly among younger Singaporeans.

To understand the results, it is important to appreciate both local dynamics of the contest as well as broader shifts that are taking place in South-East Asia, including Malaysia...