Singapore ruling party in poll test amid growing discontent

Singapore's governing party faces a poll test this month to fill the seat of the ex-parliamentary Speaker who quit over an affair, officials said Wednesday, at a time of growing criticism of its rule.

The January 26 by-election will give a new snapshot of the public mood two years after the People's Action Party (PAP), which has ruled the city-state for more than half a century, suffered its worst ever general election result.

Public discontent has been rising over issues such as immigration -- with foreigners blamed for overcrowding and putting pressure on public services -- rising prices and a widening income gap.

The Elections Department announced the by-election for the seat in Punngol East ward, which had been held by former Speaker Michael Palmer, 44.

He resigned in December from parliament and the PAP "to avoid further embarrassment" after confessing to the extramarital affair.

It will be the second by-election test for the PAP since the 2011 polls. In a by-election last year, the main opposition Workers' Party easily retained a seat in what was seen as a fresh rebuff to the PAP.

Several small parties have signalled they will contest the upcoming by-election, a situation that analysts said would divide the anti-government vote.

Opposition parties have been emboldened since the May, 2011 general election, when the PAP's share of the popular vote fell to an all-time low of 60 percent.

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