Latest publications, research and interviews on Singapore politics

GE2020: The aftermath of Singapore’s first digital election

A video that summarizes the role digital technology played in Singapore’s general election. I discuss whether we can correlate online activity with offline activism and voteshares and the engagement of Singaporeans in the election.

Singapore’s election: Why aren’t the winners smiling?

An article that suggests reasons why Singapore’s PAP may be disappointed with the results of GE2020. Cited on Singapore’s high-vote disproportionality due to its party bloc vote electoral system.

Read the full article on theinterpreter

GE2020: Are GRCs still PAP fortresses after this GE?

An article that explores how Singapore’s GRC system impacts PAP and opposition chances at electoral success. I comment on potential strategies the PAP may implement in upcoming elections.

Read the full article on Straits Times

Gluttons for Punishment: Why so many Singaporeans voted for the opposition, The Economist, 12 July 2020

An article that describes reasons for the PAP’s declining popular vote share for GE2020. It includes my comment summarizing some voters critiques of the PAP.

Read the full article on The Economist

GE2020: Singapore’s first digital election, 4 July 2020

An informative video that explores what’s at stake with Singapore’s first digital elections and how candidate strategies and voting has changed. I speak on Singapore’s digital electoral readiness, the risks of data breaches, data scraping, and election rules.

Also available on Facebook and Straits Times

The Big Read in short: What a ‘digital GE’ means for everyone By Ng Jun Sen, 27 June 2020

This article by Ng Jun Sen explores how parties are engaging voters online ahead of Singapore’s pandemic election and what the implications are for voters of a “digital election”. I draw upon my research to describe how contrary to the belief that social media may level the playing field, it is difficult for resource-poor, smaller parties to leverage digital technology.

Read on Today Online

Webinar: Singapore’s Pandemic Elections: What’s at Stake?, 21 June 2020

A voter education webinar co-organized by CAPE and

My presentation provided an overview of how Singapore’s 2020 general elections, conducted under Covid-19 Special Arrangement Bill, is different and how the changes in electoral rules would affect voters, parties, candidates and voting behavior.

For more information, see the write-ups by CAPE and

Research Articles

Tan, Netina. 2020. “Minimal Factionalism in Singapore’s People’s Action Party.” Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs 39 (1): 124–43.

Tan, Netina. 2020. “Digital learning and extending electoral authoritarianism in Singapore.” Special issue on “Authoritarian Innovations: Crafting Support for a Less Democratic Southeast Asia”, Democratization, edited by Nicole Curato and Diego Fossato.

Tan, Netina and Bernard Grofman. 2018. “Electoral Rules and Manufacturing Legislative Supermajority: Evidence from Singapore.” Commonwealth and Comparative Politics (56:3): 273-297.

Tan, Netina. 2016. “Why are Gender Reforms Adopted in Singapore: Party Pragmatism and Electoral Incentives.” Pacific Affairs 89 (2): 369-393. (Shortlisted for William L. Holland Prize for the most outstanding article in Pacific Affairs for 2016).

Tan, Netina. 2016. “Gender Reforms, Quotas and Women’s Political Representation in Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore,” Pacific Affairs 89 (2): 309-323.  

Tan, Netina. 2015. “Party Quotas and Rising Women Politicians in Singapore.” Politics & Gender 11 (01): 196-207.

Tan, Netina. 2014. “Ethnic Quotas and Unintended Effects on Women’s Political Representation in Singapore.” International Political Science Review 35 (1): 27–40. 10.1177/0192512113508666

Tan, Netina. 2013. “Manipulating Electoral Laws in Singapore,” in “The new research agenda on electoral integrity,” ed. Pippa Norris, special symposium, Electoral Studies 32 (4): 632–43.

Book Contributions

“Singapore: Challenges of ‘Good Governance’ Without Liberal Democracy.” In Governance and Democracy in the Asia-Pacific: Political and Civil Society, 1st Edition, 48–73. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY, 2020: Routledge.

“Elected Women Politicians in Singapore’s Parliament: An Analysis of Socio-Demographic Profile,” in Women of Asia: Globalization, Development, and Social Change, edited by Linda Lindsey and Mehrangiz Najafizadeh, New York, 2018: Routledge, 198-211.  

“Pre-Electoral Manipulation and its Effects on Singapore’s 2015 GE,” in Change in Voting: Singapore’s 2015 General Election, edited by Terence Lee and Kevin Tan, 169-190. Singapore: Ethos Book.

“Institutionalized Hegemonic Party Rule in Singapore.” In Party Institutionalization in Asia: Democracies, Autocracies and the Shadows of the Past, edited by Erik Kuhonta and Allen Hicken, 49-73. New York, 2015: Cambridge University Press.

Tan, Netina. 2014. “Democratization and Embracing Uncertainty in Post-2011 Singapore.” In Democracy in Eastern Asia: Issues, Problems and Challenges in a Region of Diversity, edited by Edmund Fung and Steven Drakeley, 181-203. New York: Routledge.


Political parties must ACT now to assure voters of clean online campaigning

This General Election will be the most internet-reliant in the republic’s history. It is also Singapore’s first since it became clear to the world that online tricks for manipulating public opinion have outstripped societies’ traditional defences against disinformation. Continue Reading →

Anti-Fake News Remedies Worse than the Disease in Asia

False information sways elections, and social media makes it worse. So governments are rushing through laws to block “fake news.” But in Southeast Asia, these laws will do more harm to elections than fake news. Continue Reading →

PAP’s win silences its critics

In the 2015 election, Singaporeans strongly endorsed the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and gave Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong a strong mandate to lead for the next five years. Despite the online dissent and the large crowds that thronged the opposition rallies, the PAP won a handsome 70.1 per cent of the popular vote. Continue Reading →

Singapore’s 2015 Election: Can the People’s Action Party Strengthen Its Mandate to Rule

Singapore will hold a snap general election on September 11, 2015. Unlike Canada’s 78-days campaign period, Singapore only has nine short days. Described as a “watershed election,” this will be the country’s first election without its influential former leader, Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away in March this year. Continue Reading →

Conference Presentations

Tan, Netina. 2018. “Regulating Fake News: A Typology.” Presented at Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore, 8 Nov.

Tan, Netina. 2018. “Regulating Fake News: What Is the Best Way Forward?” Presented at College of Alice and Peter Tan Tea Talk, National University of Singapore, Singapore, 8 Nov.

Tan, Netina. 2018. “Electoral Management of Social Media and Fake News in Asia.” Presented at The Roles of the Media in Electoral Processes: Election Management Capacity Building Program, Association of World Election Bodies (A-Web), Incheon, South Korea, 20-23 Oct.

Tan, Netina. 2016. “Minimal Factionalism in Singapore’s People’s Action Party.” Presented at Explaining the Rise and Varieties of Intra-Party Factionalism: Evidence from Competitive Party Systems in Southeast Asia, Naresuan University, Phitasanulok, Thailand, 31 Jul-3 Aug

Tan, Netina. 2014. “Sources of Electoral Competitiveness in Hegemonic Party Regimes: Political Attitudes and Prospects of Liberalization in Singapore.” Presented at Theoretical and Methodological Issues in the Study of Electoral Authoritarianism Workshop, Heidelberg, Germany, 15-16 Sep.

Tan, Netina. 2014. “Why No Liberalizing Outcomes? Singapore’s Hegemonic Party Regimes after 2011 Elections.” Presented at Dominant Party Systems Conference, University of Michigan, USA, 9-10 May.

Tan, Netina. 2012. “Constitutional Engineering and Regulating Ethnic Relations in Singapore.” Presented at Constitutional Design and Ethnic Conflict Workshop, New York University Law School, USA, 17 Nov.