SINGAPORE : 'Open Government' Test

A general election scheduled for Saturday in the island republic will be the first test of popularity for Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, who was appointed to his job last year. But whatever the results of the poll, Goh has a distinct advantage: He has already won.

His ruling People's Action Party has been declared the winner of 41 of Parliament's 81 seats because it faces no opposition. Goh says he still sees the vote as a referendum on his policy of "open, consultative government" and hopes to beat the party's last showing in 1988, when it garnered 63% of the national vote.

One factor working in Goh's favor is that the election comes at a time when the economy is booming, growing at about 8% a year--among the world's fastest-growing economies. The ruling party has another advantage: Voters use numbered ballots, so individuals know their choices are not secret.

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