Singapore to hold early elections amid Covid-19

Bangkok, June 23 (efe-epa).- The Singapore government announced on Tuesday that it would hold early elections in July in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis and other challenges such as tensions between the United States and China.

“The government must able to respond promptly and decisively to the Covid-19 outbreak and the economic situation, and to external developments,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a televised address.

Lee said the current legislative term was due to expire in April next year, but he decided to dissolve the parliament and declare early elections so that the next government could focus on the challenges in the coming months.

“The alternative is to wait out the Covid-19 pandemic. But we have no assurance that the pandemic will be over before this government’s term must end next April,” said the prime minister.

According to the election commission, voting will take place on July10.

Political parties will not be allowed to hold rallies to maintain physical distancing, but the authorities will allow door-to-door campaigns and use of television and social media by candidates.

The prime minister said the next government would have to take “critical decisions” that will impact the future of Singaporeans “far beyond the five-year term of the next government.”

With more than 43,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, including 26 dead, Lee said the situation in the country was “relatively stable.”

While he asserted that the government has partly alleviated the economic impact of the pandemic, he also warned that a “long fight” lay ahead until a vaccine was discovered.

He also warned that many companies would shut down in the coming days and unemployment would rise, besides other international challenges such as tensions between Beijing and Washington or the US presidential elections towards the end of the year.

The prime minister gave examples of other countries such as South Korea, Taiwan and some European countries, who have held elections during the pandemic, and assured the people that they would be able to vote safely in the city-state.

Since its independence in 1965, Singapore has been governed by the People’s Action Party, led by Lee Hsien Loong, who is the son of the state’s founding father and former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. EFE-EPA


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