How Opposition unity and disunity work for Noynoy
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-09-10

The charlatans posturing as political gurus in our country like to mouth prescriptions that are so far removed from ground reality. One of these which you will hear from them is the “imperative” for the Opposition to unite behind one presidential candidate.

In the context of the 1986 Snap Presidential Election, Opposition unity was indeed imperative. The Opposition was facing the formidable Marcos political machinery that had all the advantages in terms of the support of local officials and the government bureaucracy, money, goons, and a media monopoly.

If those were not enough, they also had a servile Comelec (Commission on Elections) to ensure that they had the votes they did not get. They even had a rubber stamp Parliament that was willing to proclaim Marcos the winner of an election that he did not win.

Thus, a three-way fight in 1986 between Ferdinand Marcos, Cory C. Aquino and Salvador “Doy” Laurel would have been tantamount to handing the election to the dictator sans any need for brutality, coercion, and vote buying and electoral fraud. Within that context, unity became the absolute imperative for Opposition victory.

But things have changed drastically since the 1987 Cory Constitution was passed by a plebiscite. We have evolved into the age of the multi-party system. The 1992, 1998 and 2004 presidential elections have produced winners via a plurality unlike the winners via a majority vote that characterized the 1936 Constitution’s two-party system.

Now, the charlatans are setting this fallacious standard that the Opposition must unite behind a single candidate if it is to win in the 2010 presidential election. Whoever is mouthing that line, you can liken that person to an anal ‘sphincter’ specializing in the distribution of ordure.

Why? It is because their conclusions do not conform to ground reality like the following:

1. The administration does not even have a top rating candidate. Their best bet is Vice President Noli de Castro who is now lagging behind as third placer and there is no saying how much lower he’ll fall once he runs as the administration candidate.

2. Bad as the terrain is for the administration, it should worsen with the resurgence of the Yellow Fever which produced the Noynoy Aquino factor. Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) is largely seen as the antithesis of Cory C. Aquino and the rise of the leader inheriting the mantle of Cory Aquino will naturally galvanize the anti GMA forces, easily over 65%.

3. Just as Cory set the 1986 presidential battle above personality considerations — the Noynoy factor elevates the 2010 presidential fight into an ideological battle. In 2010, it will be a choice between those who desire the kind of governance Cory gave us versus the kind of governance GMA has been dishing. This will also mark the reemergence of the fight between good and evil that characterized the 1986 Snap Election.

4. Even the other Opposition presidential candidates are prone to being seen as the opposite of what Noynoy brings into the 2010 equation. Practically all of them — Joseph “Erap” Estrada especially — have skeletons in their respective closets that could tag them as part of the evil Filipinos want to exorcise.

Outside of Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas before he gave way to Noynoy, do you see in the other top 5 rating presidential candidates anyone who can credibly assume to represent the forces of good in the fight against the forces of evil? The only who can probably presume to have that “market position” — as he has adopted that since his first try in 2004 — is Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Jesus is Lord (JIL) but he is not top rating and cannot affect Noynoy whether he runs or not.

Appreciating these political realities governing the 2010 presidential election, the correct conclusion to make is that whether there is Opposition unity or not, Noynoy Aquino is the man to beat. If there is Opposition unity behind Noynoy’s candidacy, then he can win with an overwhelming majority vote which is something that he can use to propel his reform agenda.

If there are eventually four or more presidential candidates (outside of the “Racuyals” who insist on running even if the odds are ten billion to one against them), that would not deter a Noynoy poll victory. In such a scenario, Noynoy should be able to get a comfortable plurality similar to Estrada’s 38% votes total in 1998 which was considered then a landslide victory.

In 1998, Estrada’s 38% was the result of sheer popularity. Erap laid no claims to purity and being a champion of good versus evil. He had the benefit of competing with weak brands — most notably the then administration candidate.

In 2010, Filipinos have had too much of the era of Harlot Politics, the era of greed and scandals, the era of a president the majority sees as a liar and an election cheater, an era characterized by acts of impunity and an era that easily falls under the public perception of evil. Noynoy becomes the 2010 dominant political brand by simply representing the exact opposite of all that.

As per marketing reality, regardless if there are three or 13 competing brands in a product category, the dominant brand retains the biggest market share.

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