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Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 22:46

Singapore calls election a year early

By Reuters
Singapore calls election a year early
This photo taken on July 29, 2015 shows Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart at the Istana presidential palace in Singapore. (AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMA)

SINGAPORE - Singapore will hold a general election on Sept 11, more than a year before a deadline for the next polls, the office of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday, seen riding the feel-good factor of the city-state's 50th birthday.

The announcemnet came after President Tony Tan Keng Yam, on the advice of Prime Minister Lee, dissolved the country's 12th parliament on earlier on Tuesday.

Analysts have said the People's Action Party (PAP), which was founded by the prime minister's father, the late Lee Kuan Yew, and has ruled since six years before independence in 1965, will be keen to tap national pride the Aug 9 celebrations generated and improve on its performance in the last election.

In 2011, the PAP won its lowest ever share of the vote with many people unhappy about the cost of living and immigration. Those issues will again be at the forefront of debate when candidates from the PAP and opposition parties head to campaign rallies across the affluent city-state.

The next general election had to be held by January 2017, but there had been speculation in the media and political blogs that it would be called early.

"Soon I will be calling elections to ask for your mandate, to take Singapore into this next phase of our nation building," Lee said in his annual speech as part of the National Day celebrations.

Singapore calls election a year early

In this photo taken on July 3, 2015, Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam speaks at a luncheon commemorating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Mark Schiefelbein)

The legacy of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister, who died on March 23, will be fresh in the minds of voters and the PAP will be keen to convince people it is best placed to ensure Singapore's success over the next 50 years.

The elder Lee oversaw the city-state's rapid rise from a British colonial backwater to a global trade and financial center and his death triggered a flood of tributes.

In his lifetime, Lee drew praise for his market-friendly policies, but also criticism at home and abroad for his strict controls over the press, public protest and political opponents.

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