Former Singapore Deputy PM Shanmugaratnam Elected President

In a historic election, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, former deputy prime minister of Singapore, secured a commanding victory in the city-state's first contested presidential vote in over a decade. With more than two-thirds of the vote, he comfortably claimed the presidency, a primarily ceremonial role.

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Singapore Elects Tharman Shanmugaratnam as President

Before the election results were announced, Shanmugaratnam expressed his belief that his victory was a vote of confidence in Singapore and a sign of optimism for the country's future. He stated, "I'm humbled by this vote. It is not just a vote for me; it is a vote for Singapore's future." He won by a significant margin, obtaining 70.4 percent of the vote for a six-year term.

His main rival, Ng Kok Song, a former chief investment officer of Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC, conceded after securing only 15.7 percent of the vote. Ng acknowledged that Shanmugaratnam had earned a mandate from the people of Singapore.

Rigorous Requirements for the Presidency

The presidential position in Singapore has stringent requirements, including overseeing the city's financial reserves and having the authority to veto certain measures and approve anti-corruption investigations. Although the presidency is non-partisan, political lines had already been drawn for this election.

Shanmugaratnam was widely seen as the frontrunner for the role and had resigned from the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and his position as a senior minister in the cabinet to run for the presidency, as all candidates must be independent. Despite concerns about his independence, the 66-year-old economist was perceived to have the government's backing.

The ruling People's Action Party (PAP) has governed Singapore continuously since 1959, and Shanmugaratnam's victory is seen as an indicator of PAP support leading up to the 2025 general elections.

Compulsory Voting and High Turnout

Voting is mandatory for Singapore's over 2.7 million eligible citizens. In this election, over 85 percent of eligible voters had cast their ballots by 5:00 pm local time. The voting process was orderly, with no significant disruptions.

An Election with Broader Implications

Political analysts noted that the presidential election had taken on the characteristics of a general election, indicating shifting opinions about the ruling party. Despite this, Shanmugaratnam secured a resounding victory.

Key Presidential Functions

One of the president's most critical functions in Singapore is safeguarding the country's financial reserves, which can only be utilized in exceptional circumstances, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the global financial crisis of 2009. Presidential candidates must have served as senior civil servants or as the CEO of a company with a shareholder equity of at least SGD 500 million ($370 million).

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