S’pore to do away with six-member GRCs, increase number of electoral divisions in next GE

S’pore to do away with six-member GRCs, increase number of electoral divisions in next GE

Singapore will cease having six-member Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) in the next General Election (GE) and will instead see more electoral divisions, according to the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC) report released on Fri (13 Mar).

The number of GRCs has increased from 16 to 17 with the creation of the Sengkang GRC.

The newest GRC is a merger of the former Sengkang West and Punggol East Single Member Constituencies (SMCs), and parts of Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC.

Sengkang GRC will be among other four-member GRCs, namely the Chua Chu Kang, Holland-Bukit Timah, Jalan Besar and Marsiling-Yew Tee GRCs.

Six-member GRCs — such as the Ang Mo Kio and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRCs — have been reduced to five-member ones, while four-member GRCs — such as the East Coast and West Coast GRCs — will instead be increased to five-member ones.

Other five-member GRCs are the Aljunied, Jurong, Marine Parade, Nee Soon, Sembawang, Tampines and Tanjong Pagar GRCs.

The Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC will have its seats in Parliament reduced from five to four.

No changes are observed in the electoral boundaries of constituencies held by the Workers’ Party (WP), namely Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC. WP is the only opposition party in Singapore to have seats in Parliament currently.

An increase of two electoral divisions was recommended by the EBRC from 29 to 31.

Another recommendation made by the EBRC is the increase of seats in Parliament. The House will have a total of 93 seats — four more seats than the current 89.

The Government has accepted the EBRC’s recommendations and will carry them out in the next GE.

With the announcement of the new electoral boundaries, President Halimah Yacob is expected to dissolve Parliament on the advice of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s advice.

Previously in 2015, the EBRC released its report on 24 Jul, a month prior to the dissolution of Parliament. Voting took place on 11 Sep that year.

A GRC is a large electoral division, both in terms of population as well as physical area, comprising a group of MPs representing the interests of those residents in the electoral division, while an SMC is an electoral division that has a single MP representing the interests of those residents in the electoral division.

Lee Kuan Yew as prime minister suggested in 1982 that as young voters were less aware of the importance of voting in a racially balanced selection of MPs at the time, it was crucial to ensure adequate minority race representation.

Mr Lee’s view was then materialised via amendments made to the Constitution of the Republic and the Parliamentary Elections Act, paving the way to the current GRC system, whereby teams of candidates running for election in a GRC must include at least one member from a minority community.

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