VOTE FOR ME: Elections Posters in Singapore (2)

In the previous post, I talked about the manifesto posters that the various political parties put up during a General Elections. This time around, I’ll be looking at the posters that feature the candidates. Above are the various poster designs of the People’s Action Party (PAP) in 1972, 1976, 1988 and 1991 respectively. The lack of colour coincides with the period when colour printing wasn’t cheaply available yet. The choice of portraits was also conservative, or maybe even practical, since it is just as likely that these would have used for Identity Cards, or worse, funerals. It was only in the 1997 elections that the candidate photos came in colour, and by 2001, Photoshop also came into the picture.

1972 PAP Lim Kim San

1976 PAP Lim Kim San

1988 PAP LKY

1991 PAP Single

In contrast to these posters of the ruling PAP, the candidate posters of the opposition parties have generally been ‘less designed’, as evident in these posters of the Workers’ Party (WP) (1980), Barisan Sosialis (BS) (1984), Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) (1984), United People’s Front (1988), Democratic Progressive Party (1997) and National Solidarity Party (NSP) (1997). With the exception of NSP’s poster, the other opposition candidates don’t subscribe to the “less is more” attitude of the PAP posters. Instead, they try to squeeze the logo, slogan, party name (in all four languages!), candidate name, and in case you still don’t get it, icon or tagline reminding you to vote for him or her. One might attribute this desire to squeeze as much as they can to the lack of funding to print better posters, but one must also remember that by law, each candidate has a fixed budget for their elections campaign. For the last elections, one could only spend on average, $3 per voter.1980 WP Single

1984 SDP Chiam See Tong

1984 BS Lee Siew Choh

1988 UPF Single

1997 DPP Tan Lead Shake

1997 NSP Christopher Neo

There few exceptions of distinctly designed posters of opposition candidates have come from two controversial ones: SDP’s Chee Soon Juan (1997) and Singapore Democratic Alliance’s Steve Chia (2006 and 2001). For some reason, the latter’s posters reminds me of real estate advertisements. I think it’s the man in a suit with the choice of colours.

1997 SDP Chee Soon Juan

2001 SDA Steve Chia

2006 SDA Steve Chia

A new type of candidate posters had to be designed in 1988 when the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) came about. Suddenly, one candidate had to share the same space with two or more as seen in these posters of the PAP (1988), WP (1997), SDA (2006) and PAP (2001).

1988 PAP GRC

1997 WP GRC

2006 SDA GRC

2001 PAP GRC 1


Finally, just a quick look at a quirky category of posters that belong to the independent candidate, a breed that has not existed since the 2001 elections. Their posters reflects how inadequate they are without the resources and machinery of a party.

1984 IND Lee Mun Hung

1984 IND Stanley

1988 IND Harry

1988 IND MG Guru

1991 IND M G Guru

1991 IND Yen 1

2001 IND Tan Kim Chuang


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