Group Representation Constituency (GRC)

No, GRC doesn’t stand for Grassroots Committee.

There are two kinds of constituencies in Singapore: Single Member Constituencies (SMCs) and Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs). During a general election, voters in a SMC will elect an individual to represent them in Parliament and those in a GRC will elect a group of four to six candidates.

But this hasn't always been the case. Before the GRC scheme was introduced in 1988, all constituencies were SMCs. GRCs were implemented to ensure minority representation in politics, as the Government was worried that the Chinese majority would pick a candidate based on the same ethnic group if the electoral divisions only had SMCs.

Under this minority requirement, each GRC had to include a Malay and an Indian/Other, but it also meant that candidates had to contest in groups, which hindered the Opposition’s potency as they scrambled to field the numbers.

Some complained that GRCs were meant to diminish the Opposition’s chances of getting into Parliament. In 1996, constitutional amendments raised the maximum size of GRCs from four to six and decreased the number of SMCs as six new GRCs were introduced.

At the 2011 general election, however, the Workers’ Party showed that it was able to adapt to changes as it wrested the five-member Aljunied GRC from the People’s Action Party, and retained it in 2015.

In his Parliament speech on 27 Jan 2016, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong promised to reduce the average size of GRCs — which currently stands at 4.75 — and create more SMCs for this coming election. There are currently 16 GRCs and 13 SMCs.

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