[Generic Competitive Position Analysis 1/2]
In order to enjoy economic profits and absolute control in the parliament, the PAP has to continue its integrated strategies. The party has to position itself as a low-cost leader and at the same time, to be different from other political parties in Singapore. It will continue to contest all the parliament seats and most likely it is the only party to do so in the next election.
In 2011 General Election, except one group (5 members) constituency, all other parliament seats were contested. There were 6 opposition parties participated in the election. The number of seats each party contested ranging from 7 to 24. No single party, besides the PAP, has contested more than one-third (27) of the seats.
The weak points of PAP Integrated Strategies are opposition parties will concentrate on the low-cost focused market and niche (focus differentiation) segment. The dilemma of “stuck in the middle” is real. This had happened in 2011 when the main opposition party, The Workers’ Party (WP), made a breakthrough in one of the group constituencies. No opposition party has ever won a group representation constituency since its establishment in the 1980s.
Table 1: Generic Competitive Position
Source of competitive advantage
The PAP is a dominant party. To maintain a one-party state for so long itself is already a very unique situation. It has resources and candidates contesting all the seats. They have experience, expertise, first mover advantage, brand, suppliers support and advertising (media control and promotion) at their sides.
Competitive scope within industry
The PAP is aiming to be the government so it has to be broad base and representing all Singaporeans. Its competitive strengths cannot only be in a niche market (e.g. professionals, foreign-born citizens) or focused on low cost (e.g. lower income voters, certain racial or religious groups).
It is like Toyota, aiming to be the cost leader as well as to continue differentiating from other car manufacturers. The PAP is even in a better position than Toyota. There are no strong alternatives or competitors; heavy investment on R&D (regulations and boundary changes, think tanks) and human resources (scholarships to potential candidates) can be sponsored by the government funding; free advertising are carried out by the main stream media, etc.
As a result, the PAP is able to market itself with very little cost. Their logo is known to everyone at all market segments from young to old, from different race or language or education background. At the same, they also have die-hard supporters who are willing to pay higher price (even the party makes mistakes) to vote for the PAP. They have also free access to niche markets like grass roots organization, religion bodies, chambers of commerce, clan associations etc.
Challenges are from focus on low cost and niche market
Since there is no broad base opposition party with strong differentiation characters, the only breakthrough that an alternative party can achieve is to focus on certain areas (to save costs and reach economy of scale) and niche market (traditional opposition strongholds).
WP is able to make the breakthrough by concentrating in the eastern part of Singapore. They have concentrated all their resources in certain constituencies in the east and maintain constant contacts and communications with buyers.
Political Ideology Vacuum
According to Wikipedia, in the past 50 years the PAP has transformed its political ideologies from a historical perspective of anti-colonialism and democratic socialism to the modern day of social conservatism, fiscal conservatism, Third-way and anti-communism. In short, the PAP political position is moving from left to right or centre-right. A shift of position also means its old position (left or centre-left) is taken up by other opposition parties.
A new political normal in fact will see the emergence of centre-left political forces in Singapore. The reduced PAP Economic Profits or even Normal Profits will be taken over by these forces in the next elections.
The protest of Population White Paper, the unhappiness of housing, medical, rich-poor gap, education, etc. clearly show that the PAP is unable to satisfy left, centre-left or even centre voters. The engagement level of National Conversation is another example. It seems to show that the PAP is talking to its own supporters.