Tharman Shanmugaratnam Becomes Singapore's President Having Won 70% of the Vote

The vote for the largely ceremonial role was widely viewed as a test of support for the ruling People's Action Party.

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.

Important barometer

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.

This article was originally published in DW.