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Former Singapore Ruling Party Member Wins Landmark Presidential Election Amid Economic Challenges and Scandals

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A Former Member of Singapore’s Ruling Party Wins Landslide Victory in Presidential Election

A former member of Singapore’s ruling party, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, has won a landslide victory in the city-state’s presidential election. The election is considered a reflection of public sentiment amid economic challenges and high-profile scandals.

Tharman, 66, who previously served as the deputy prime minister, secured 70.4% of the votes, according to the elections department. Singapore follows a parliamentary democracy, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong serving as the head of government.

This overwhelming victory for Tharman, who is perceived as closely aligned with the establishment, indicates that Singaporeans generally still have faith in the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), according to analysts.

Tharman’s Popularity and Independence

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Political scientist Walid Jumblatt Abdullah from Nanyang Technological University stated, “It shows that the PAP is still a trusted brand, as long as the candidate that is put forth is credible. Tharman is as credible as it gets.” Tharman has been a popular politician, having achieved several victories in parliamentary elections, including the largest margin of votes in the 2020 general election as a PAP member.

Although he resigned from the party earlier this year, Tharman emphasized his independence during his presidential campaign.

Historically known for its stable and corruption-free politics, Singapore has recently experienced a series of high-profile scandals, causing frustration among voters already burdened by high living costs.

The Role of the President in Singapore

The president’s role in Singapore is primarily ceremonial, but the office is expected to ensure checks and balances on the government. The president holds the key to the country’s significant but undisclosed reserves and possesses veto powers over any budget or specific transaction that may use those reserves. However, they must consult the Council of Presidential Advisers.

The president also has the authority to veto the appointment or removal of important public officials and can direct the anti-graft bureau to investigate cases, even when the prime minister disagrees.

This election marks Singapore’s third presidential election since 1991 when the public gained the right to choose the president. Tharman will be the country’s ninth president overall.

Prime Minister Lee congratulated Tharman and expressed his government’s full cooperation, stating, “Mr. Tharman has also declared his intention to work closely with the government.”

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