There are fewer things more stable than Singapore's politics. The island state is known for its top-rated civil service, efficiency of government and business-friendly policies.

It has also had one party in power since independence in 1965. Among the establishing members of the People’s Action Party in 1954 was Lee Kuan Yew, known as the founding father of the nation. It was his role in positioning Singapore as an oasis of predictability in a chaotic neighborhood that has helped consistently secure the PAP victory in every election since independence.

Leadership transitions are rare and when they do happen, they are telegraphed. The current prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong — Lee Kuan Yew's son — announced on Nov. 5 that he would be stepping down before the next election, which must be held by November 2025, handing over to his deputy Lawrence Wong. Lee signaled the transition could come as early as next year — the announcement itself was widely expected, it was simply the timing that caught many on the island off guard.