Six months after the death of Singapore's former leader Lee Kuan Yew in March, the government chose to hold a general election in the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It was a surprising choice. The Hungry Ghost Month, when spirits leave the underworld to roam among the people according to Taoist beliefs, is not propitious for major life events in the eyes of the majority Chinese population in Singapore. The government, which can choose a poll date within a five-year term, has held polls in this inauspicious period just once since independence. It was in 1991 and it obtained poor results. But clearly it believed lightning, the emblem of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), would not strike twice. Superstitions have no place in the rationality of a Singapore election. On Friday night, two weeks before the more upbeat MidAutumn Festival of lanterns and mooncakes, the electorate proved that Lee's PAP was right. Despite contesting for the first time without its spiritual father, the party won a strong mandate of 69.9 per cent of the votes. It is a near 10 percentage point jump from the previous polls four years back. In good measure, the minuscule opposition representation was cut from seven to six seats in the 89-member parliament, with the main opposition Workers' Party's (WP) vote share slipping 6.8 points to 39.8 per cent. The much-talked about "Lee Kuan Yew bounce" for the PAP was higher than anyone had imagined. No one, not even the PAP, expected such a rout in the first election since independence when all seats were contested. "No one saw this coming," said analyst Eugene Tan from the Singapore Management University. "I think even Lee Kuan Yew didn't." His son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and leader of the PAP, certainly did not. He said the results "exceeded expectations". Opposition leaders were shocked. The Singaporean First Party's Tan Jee Say, whose outfit pushed hard against an influx of immigrants, said: "The results are not consistent with the feedback we've heard from the ground, and these results are even worse than what we had expected." In an election where a majority of seats are contested, this is the ruling party's best performance since 1980. Most of the scores seem anachronistic even by the dominant standards of the PAP. The results more closely resembled those of the 1970s, when the PAP enjoyed complete control of parliament. For instance, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and his team won 79.3 per cent of the votes in their multi-seat ward in western Singapore, enjoying a 12-point swing. They are the highest vote-getters in the PAP. Of the 29 constituencies, the PAP scored above 70 per cent in 15 fights. In the last general election in 2011, it managed just one. Even supposedly close contests turned out to be wide of the mark. Fengshan, a seat in eastern Singapore rumoured to be the PAP's weakest link, gave the PAP 57.5 per cent of the vote against its Workers' Party rival. "All this is a mandate for authoritarianism and brainwashing," said the Reform Party's Kenneth Jeyaretnam, comparing the results to China and North Korea. "Singaporeans get the government they deserve. I don't want to hear any more complaints." Much of the vote swing is down to the PAP hearing and acting on the complaints of Singaporeans. After the blow it suffered in 2011, when the WP won a multi-seat ward for the first time, the PAP responded quickly to the unhappiness. High ministerial salaries were reduced, prices of public housing were contained and more buses and trains were added to meet the growing population of 5.47 million. It also tightened the entry of immigrants and loosened its purse strings for more generous distribution to the poor and elderly. "The government's slew of redistributive policies … allowed it to move to the left, thus taking the wind out of opposition proposals," said observer Terence Chong of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, referring to an upcoming universal health care policy, among others. These changes were noted by the Workers' Party as well. But it argued it was its parliamentary inroads in 2011 which forced the PAP to perform such U-turns. Lee argued during the campaign that such an argument was illogical. "The opposition's formula doesn't make sense," he said. "They say, 'if the government did a good job it's because you voted for the opposition. So, vote for the opposition and the government will work harder. Doesn't matter if the opposition is not doing the work.' What sort of politics is that? It's perverse, it's upside down, you confuse yourself." Singaporeans agreed. "The electorate chose to reward the incumbent for its hard work since the 2011 elections, instead of crediting the opposition for prompting the government into making these changes," Chong said. Tan added: "Voters signalled that they welcome the PAP being responsive to their concerns. So they voted for a strong government that is responsive, empathetic and adaptive." The result has left Singapore's opposition with much to do. The heady minor success of 2011 gave way to a serious thrashing. It is a reminder of how difficult it is to beat a behemoth which has been in power for 56 consecutive years and enjoys wide-ranging state and popular support. Beside building the country into a modern metropolis - a fact the PAP was keen to emphasise during the nation's jubilee celebrations and after the death of Lee Kuan Yew - it has not shied away from using government machinery to attack the opposition. A sustained two-year campaign against the mismanagement of the Workers' Party's municipal outfit paid dividends when it managed to win back a seat from the WP. Despite accusations of bullying, the PAP's rhetoric resonated with the people. The WP barely hung on to its prized multi-seat constituency with 51 per cent of the vote - a 3.8 point dip. Its leader, Low Thia Khiang, the unofficial head of the opposition, pledged to do better. Teammate Chen Show Mao said they would reflect and hoped to "win a more absolute trust" from voters in future. Analysts are not optimistic about a clearer way ahead on Singapore's long road to a more democratic system. "The results suggest the journey towards a stronger and more credible opposition is not important to most Singaporeans," Chong said. "They are happy with a PAP-dominated landscape with a small opposition presence in parliament, with perhaps the risk of even this disappearing." Many have also argued that a fear of a weakened PAP, despite its 92 per cent dominance in parliament, led many Singaporeans to abandon their brief flirtation with the opposition. "There was a foreboding belief on polling day that Singapore may have a severely weakened PAP government, and middle-ground voters were galvanised to not use their vote to experiment with new political options," Tan said. Prominent blogger Alex Au observed that the polls showed a populace which was "very comfortable with trusting an overdominant government to steer the way and find solutions to immediate problems". "This electorate will protest when it feels pain, but is easily pacified with short-term fixes," he wrote on his blog. The pressure is now on the PAP to deliver, again, with both immediate carrots and long-term plans. Failure to present sufficient offerings to the electorate could see them come back to haunt the PAP at the ballot box.