Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Professor Jonathan Hanson
Professor Mathew Cleary
Citizenship and Public Affairs
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Comparative Politics | Other Political Science | Political Science
This thesis studies opposition party behavior in competitive authoritarian regimes using the Singapore 2011 general election as a case study. The study asks, what is the primary reason Worker’s Party, the strongest opposition party in Singapore, did not pursue the formation of a pre-electoral coalition? I analyzed the pre- existing theories and conducted fieldwork, interviewing opposition party leaders, academics and activists, to ascertain a direct impediment and not just a background condition to coalition building. Many of the pre-existing theories contained insights relevant in Singapore, but the operationalization of the variable limited their significance. I demonstrate that Worker’s Party did not pursue building a coalition, firstly, because they perceived the other potential partner as possessing less credibility with the electorate, and was thus unable to provide unique value to the partnership. Secondly, because when the three leading all opposition parties are weak, and do not possess a level of credibility in the eyes of the electorate, then they are less likely to coalesce. As a result, Worker’s Party does not trust the effectiveness and longevity of a coalition.
Steinberg, Brian, "The Singapore Opposition: “Credibility” – The Primary Impediment to Coalition Building" (2014). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 798.
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