Rallying the base and drawing in others

Rallying the base and drawing in others

SINGAPORE - To win an election, a political party needs to succeed at two crucial things. The first, to fire up its base; the second, to capture swing voters.

The People's Action Party (PAP) is in no danger of losing government, but on Sunday, mid-way through its most electorally challenging term in 50 years, it threw precisely such a one-two punch.

First, it rewarded a pillar of its party base. Sunday's party convention was titled "Our New Way Forward" and could have been subtitled "The Silver Chapter".

Besides announcing the formation of a Seniors' Group on a par with its Youth and Women's wings, headed by Speaker Halimah Yacob and former prime minister Goh Chok Tong, party leaders emphasised repeatedly the debt the PAP owes to its older members.

The Seniors' Group will be a lobby group and a voice for them.

It is timely and strategic, given Singapore's rapidly ageing demographic and the policy conundrums that throws up.

But from a leadership that has always been gripped by renewal and its standing among the young, this was also a surprise and reward for older members who have stayed staunch through decades of benign neglect.

Little wonder that Sunday's largely silver audience greeted the news with the loudest cheers of the day.

Beyond the rank-and-file, that the older generation of Singaporeans in general are the PAP's most loyal supporters is not lost on the party leadership. This segment of the voting base has been told they are not being taken for granted.

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