Singapore (dpa) – Sample counts at Singapore polling stations taken
after Friday’s parliamentary elections showed a dramatic swing in
favour of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).

The PAP, which has governed Singapore since 1959, was ahead of its
opponents in all but two of the 29 constituencies, according to the
Election Department. It polled as high as more than 70 per cent in
some wards.

Two constituencies were declared too close to call between the PAP
and the largest opposition party, the Workers’ Party.

“It says that we have been given a decent mandate, based on the
sample, but we’re not there yet,” Edwin Tong, a PAP candidate, told
the local broadcaster Channel NewsAsia. “While we’re optimistic and
we’re very heartened by it, we have to look at what the results
actually show.”

They are expected early Saturday after the most hotly contested
election since the city-state’s 1963 independence.

Singapore does not have exit polls, but the sample count showed the
PAP ahead of the Workers’ Party at 65 per cent to 35 per cent.

The PAP saw its worst performance in the 2011 general election when
it received 60.1 per cent of the vote. However, it received 81 out of
the 87 seats in Parliament. It later lost one of those seats in a
2013 by-election.

“From what we gather in the previous elections, the sample results
have been fairly accurate,” Tan Chuan-jin, the social and family
development minister and a PAP candidate, told Channel NewsAsia.

A sample count involves the random selection of 100 ballots from each
counting centre. The ballots are then counted and weighted according
to the number of votes cast in each polling station.

Such a count is expected to be 95-per-cent accurate with a 4-per-cent
margin of error.

The polling stations were open for 12 hours until 8 pm (1200 GMT)
after a fiercely fought election campaign in which opposition parties
sought to break the PAP’s unbroken hold on power.

The PAP had been expected to win another majority in the new
Parliament, whose membership has been increased to 89, but opposition
parties called for voters to increase their support for more diverse
voices as a check on the ruling party.

“We visited 15 polling stations in all throughout the day, and
people were excited, happy, polling for the first time,” Tan Jee Say,
secretary general of the new opposition party Singaporeans First,
told Channel NewsAsia.

The party is contesting a constituency previously helmed by
Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March.

Polling was orderly, but some voters reported queues at their polling
stations on social media. Others praised the process for being swift
and efficient.

The members of Parliament will be chosen from 16 group representation
constituencies, in which four to six candidates run as teams, and 13
single-member constituencies.

The PAP campaigned on its track record of the past five decades in
its campaign.

“It’s starting to come together, but I need more, you need more,
Singapore needs more,” Lee’s son and current Prime Minister Lee Hsien
Loong said at a rally ahead of the vote.

The opposition parties countered that more effective checks and
balances are necessary to secure more accountability from the
government.

“In a democratic system, having a rational and responsible opposition
to check on the government can enhance the stability of the nation’s
political system and give overseas investors even more confidence in
Singapore,” said Workers’ Party leader Low Thia Khiang in his final
rally speech.