A Group Representation Constituency (GRC) is an electoral division that is led by a team of multiracial candidates. It differs from the Single Member Constituency (SMC) which is represented by a sole candidate. GRCs became legislated on 27 May 1988 after getting presidential assent on amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore and the Parliamentary Elections Act. The official reason for the establishment of GRCs was to ensure that Singapore’s parliament would always be multiracial in composition and representation. This is stipulated by the compulsory inclusion of at least one member in the team of candidates representing the GRC to be from a minority racial group.
Before arriving at GRCs as the approach to widen minority representation in parliament, the government considered other proposals such as having twin constituencies (served by two MPs of whom one is from the minority), giving an extra vote to minority voters, running communal-based constituencies and dividing parliament along communal lines. The GRC system was eventually chosen because it encourages political parties to campaign along moderate multiracial lines.
GRCs were first introduced in the 1988 parliamentary general election, with 13 GRCs representing 39 out of 81 parliamentary seats. The number of GRCs increased in subsequent elections and by the 2011 election, there were 15 GRCs representing 75 out of 87 parliamentary seats. The 2011 election was also a watershed as it was the first time that an opposition party – the Worker's Party – succeeded in capturing a GRC.
1. Elections Department of Singapore (2013, October 8). Types of electoral divisions. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from Elections Department website: http://www.eld.gov.sg/elections_type_electoral.html
2. Team-MP bill gets presidential assent. (1988, June 1). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Ong, C. C. et al. (1988, January 13). GRC is the best way of doing it. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Team MPs: The key features. (1988, May 11). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
5. Three alternatives, but GRC proposal is still ‘way ahead’. (1988, March 11). The Straits Times, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; The Straits Times, Jan 13 1988, p. 10.
6. PM and Chok Tong first discussed bill in ’82. (1988, January 12). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. 13 GRCs for next general election. (1988, June 15). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Chua, L. H. (2011, April 20). Polling Day on May 7: Time is ripe for me to ask voters for fresh mandate, says PM. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva; Elections Department of Singapore, 8 Oct 2013.
8. Zuraidah Ibrahim. (2011, May 8). 81–6: Workers’ Party wins Aljunied GRC; PAP vote share dips to 60.1%. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva.
The information in this article is valid as at 2013 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.