The altered election prognosis
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-04-10
Even the most optimistic political watchers did not expect the Opposition to have such a strong showing in the local level as what the SWS (Social Weather Stations) survey release of April 4 had revealed.

The survey corroborates what I’ve been saying about how the strong anti-Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) sentiment will translate to votes for the Opposition in the coming May elections. This anti-Arroyo sentiment was likely formed by:

1. The perception of the majority that GMA cheated in the 2004 elections.

2. The people’s disgust over the unbelievable brazenness of her allies in Congress in dismissing the 2005 and 2006 impeachment cases. To this day, big questions remain unanswered.

3. The poverty index ‑ the poor became more miserable. As validated by surveys, one of five households suffers from involuntary hunger and 53% of Filipinos now rate themselves poor.

4. Perceptions of corruption and repression under the Arroyo regime have graduated from national shame to international dishonor with foreign governments and citizens becoming more and more concerned.

Although I thought that these issues were indeed very powerful, I didn’t expect the Opposition to take the lead in the local contests. I thought that the Opposition’s local candidates could only win if they managed to stir public passion on the compelling issues against the Arroyo regime to the same level of passion that prompted public action against the Marcos regime in 1986.

The SWS survey release of April 4 debunked the assumption that the Opposition cannot win in the local elections. The vaunted regime local strength turned out to be a myth. Obviously, the anti-GMA temper is just as prevalent in the local as it is in the national selections. And this certainly changes the complexion of the local elections.

Predictably, the regime’s Gabby Claudio and Prospero Pichay tried to dismiss the SWS survey, calling it flawed and misleading because the candidates were not identified in the questionnaire. Either they missed the point or they simply refuse to see it. The SWS questions were framed to ascertain, regardless of personalities, how people are inclined to vote in the local elections.

The situation is no different from the 1986 Snap Election when people were willing to elect anybody who offered the bare minimum of credentials just to get rid of Marcos. That was how a simple housewife — Cory Aquino — became our first woman president. Cory simply offered herself as somebody who was the antithesis of Marcos. In like manner, the SWS survey is showing that Filipinos today want to elect local candidates who are not associated with GMA.

Before Holy Week, the Opposition was hoping to just win enough seats in Congress so that they can successfully pursue impeachment proceedings. But the SWS survey showed that they are already reaping public support that would elect an Opposition plurality in Congress.

That plurality could be a majority if the Independents are included. It is safe to assume that the bulk of the Independents are anti-GMA — much like Senate Independents Gringo Honasan and Kiko Pangilinan. The SWS survey will encourage the Independents to further distance themselves from GMA.

The Genuine Opposition (GO) and Independents (Ind) combined for a 62% majority versus only 28% for the regime’s Team Unity, a more than 2 to 1 ratio, in the congressional race. In the mayoralty race, GO and Ind combined for 58% versus 33% for TU, almost 2 to 1. Compounding TU’s woes is the fact that their 28% and 33% support bases are divided between allies Lakas-CMD and Kampi.

Governors and mayors who are themselves besieged by the strong anti-GMA tide will not get involved in the congressional and Senate races. They will be busy trying to win their own turf battles. Many will strike a deal with the Opposition in order to avoid sharing the regime’s impending Waterloo.

What should worry the regime is that their numbers in the congressional, gubernatorial and mayoralty races (ranging from 25% to 33%) happen to coincide with GMA’s satisfaction survey ratings. Such would indicate that the majority of Filipinos have solidified their aversion for GMA, a likely case of people reaching their limits after seeing too much abuse of public trust and for too long.

This altered prognosis will definitely create a powerful momentum for the Opposition. Funds should now start pouring into the Opposition kitty. The political butterflies will soon be hovering in droves, rats abandoning a sinking ship.

It is not easy to manipulate votes in the congressional and mayoralty level. There are community folk and a candidate in place who will know the election results in three days or less. The scope and area to be protected is very manageable, nothing like the backcountry that was Lanao del Sur, the election cheat’s paradise.

The regime has to wonder if they are already up against a much more powerful out-of-this-world force. Vox Populi, Vox Dei — the voice of the people is the voice of God.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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