Singaporeans on Friday elected Tharman Shanmugaratnam, a 66-year-old former deputy prime minister and finance minister, as the city-state’s new president to replace Halimah Yacob, the island nation’s first female head of state.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was widely viewed as frontrunner, won 70.4% of votes to gain a six-year term, the elections department said.
He resigned as a member of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and as a senior minister in the Cabinet ahead of the election, as all presidential candidates must be independent.
It was the city-state’s first contested presidential election in more than a decade.
Voting was compulsory for the more than 2.7 million eligible voters in Singapore.
The president’s role is largely ceremonial, but the vote was closely watched, with the result being a barometer of support for the ruling party after a rare spate of political scandals.
The head of state formally oversees Singapore’s accumulated financial reserves. He can veto key public positions and certain measures, as well as approve anti-graft probes against the will of the prime minister.
Singapore’s government is currently headed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of the PAP, which has ruled the city-state continuously since 1959. PAP recorded its worst election result ever in 2020, but retained its majority of more than two-thirds.
The PAP is likely to welcome Friday’s election result, which can be seen as a sign of trust despite the scandals, as the new president is viewed as being close to the establishment.
Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s main rival, Ng Kok Song, a former chief investment officer of Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, won just 15.7% of the vote.