Tag: Elections Ephemera

Vote For Me! Singapore Elections Ephemera


Singapore’s 11th General Elections since independence marks the beginning of a design-conscious politics—a 2011 essay I wrote for The Design Society Journal No. 03.

The day after Nicole Seah was officially presented as an election candidate for the National Solidarity Party (NSP), The New Paper asked on its cover: “Do looks matter in elections?” It was directed at the online buzz generated after the 24 year-old Seah first announced over Facebook that she was standing for elections. Netizens were clearly taken in by her profile picture—what the paper described as “lovely flowing hair, make-up and her good side showing”—so much so that nobody bothered who she was contesting with in Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency (GRC). Some even began dubbing NSP as the “Nicole Seah Party”. Soon, digitally edited pictures of her as Wonder Woman and Scarlett in the upcoming G.I. Joe movie also began making their rounds online.

However, Seah, in her own words, was not just “another pretty face”. She was confident and articulate, making astute remarks during her campaign trail. This, plus her good looks, projected the image of an attractive and credible candidate to voters. Just over a fortnight after starting her Facebook page, Seah received even more ‘Likes’ than the nation’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, earning her the title of Singapore’s most popular politician. Despite this, her NSP team did not win the election battle at Marine Parade. Yet, by garnering so much attention and winning 43.36 per cent of the votes against a People’s Action Party team led by former prime minister Goh Chok Tong, Seah’s campaign demonstrated how image played a part in helping a young unknown like her win votes.

This echoes the 2008 presidential election in the United States, when a relatively newcomer Barack Obama “crafted a meticulous visual strategy”, that helped propel him to victory. While Seah and the other candidates of Singapore’s 11th General Election did not display the sophistication of Obama’s visual campaign—right down to choosing an appropriate typeface—they produced one of the most visually-driven election in recent Singapore history, heralding the beginnings of Obama-style politics in the future.

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Infographics and GE 2011

Social media has been regarded by many as one of the most interesting and forceful expressions of Singapore’s General Elections (GE) 2011. This trend was predicted by several social media monitoring companies who used this once-in-five-years event to showcase their abilities to harness this internet chatter and make sense of it all. Their medium of choice for expressing the deluge of Facebook postings, tweets and blog posts and Foursquare check-ins? Information Visualisation. Here’s a quick run-down on three projects that ran during this GE.

Singapore GE2011 Tracker by Swarm and JamiQ

The infographic uses one of its most common elements — bars and charts — to track the rise and fall of what was “trending” during each day since elections campaigning began. If you actually match the infographic against a blow-by-blow account of the elections, I think you’ll probably get to see how certain topics played out on social media. The infographic also points you to the link that generated all the buzz. It was confusing to navigate at first because there was so much going on, but the amount of information it contains is also why it is the most useful amongst the three.

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It’s Party Time! by Tribal DDB and Brandtology

Clearly more irreverent and reader-friendly, this infographic attempted to track the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ comments about the various parties as well as how much talk was going on about them online. This one also points you to the links generating the buzz. While it’s highly interactive and was fun to click around, there have been some concerns expressed as to how accurate it was to place a value on the data — as positive or negative — since this is done automatically.

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onefiveseven by Thoughtbuzz and The Blue Bridge

The most straightforward of the three projects. This infographic provides you a directory to all social media related to parties, candidates and constituencies. This site also tracked location-based data, integrating the use of Four Square check-in during the rallies.

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These three projects are the few major information visualisation projects that have appeared on the local scene, and it’ll be interesting to see if the medium is adopted to play a bigger role in understanding life in Singapore. I see this medium as an extension of infographics, which is playing an increasing role in our newspapers, especially seen in The New Paper. A more recent print project that uses has made use of this medium to look at this country is Singapore Transcripts, which graphically expresses data pertaining to the landscape here. This age of the information explosion calls for us to get a better grasp of all the data that’s flying at us, and information visualisation is a very useful tool to easily communicate to the masses important trends and forecasts.

Elections Posters: The People’s Version

With the advent of image-editing tools like Photoshop and the ease of finding images online, Singaporeans have created some very interesting visuals to express their views on the General Elections this year. Here’s a sample of some I’ve found so far:

Remiser Tan has retold the elections via the Chinese wuxia classic《倚天屠龙记》The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber:

Nicholas Lim has remade Hollywood and Chinese blockbuster movies to dramatise the opposition’s cause, very apt choices, I must say.

Mr Brown has also translated his satirical voice into visuals, making use of the form of motivational posters and comics (click to see the actual posts)

So far, I’ve yet to find any self made posters supporting the PAP’s cause. I suppose most people think the party has more than enough resources, so why bother?

Here are also two websites that have been producing a body of political cartoons about Singapore, a rare find these days. Check out Joshua Chiang’s The Dunno Cartoons and Ben Soon’s Spore Says Political Cartoon.

Finally, if you’ve come across any self made election visuals that I’ve yet to feature, do share them here!