Post Mortem

Everybody almost got the elections right.

The Filipino almost got it right. In Grace, Bam and Sonny we ushered a new generation of young Senators who represent hope for the country. Yet we also brought in at least an equivalent number of deadwood. We overthrew some of the political dynasties –the Jalosjos, Villafuertes, Garcias- but also returned others in fuller strength. In the NCR alone we now have three dominant families.

The polls almost got it right. Pundits claim the surprise showing of Grace proves the polls were wrong. In fact the surveys predicted the 12 winners and almost in the correct order. Grace Poe was a statistical aberration: Polls are predicated on a normal statistical sample. Grace won because of a late voter swell from organized groups just like Binay in 2010. The surveys were not inaccurate, they were just not accurate enough.

The PCOS machines almost got it right. It is uncanny how the Senate rankings never varied through the vote count. Did Filipinos vote in the same pattern across the nation or was there a PCOS app we know nothing about?

PNoy almost got it right. His team won 9-3 but failed to carry Jun and Risa. If Grace was the feel-good story, Risa was the feel-bad one. On paper she was the perfect candidate, honest, intelligent, young and attractive. In 2010, Risa ranked 13th. This year she had the endorsement of PNoy, the coaching of Serge and the machinery of the LP, yet did no better than 17th   (although she collected 1.7 million more votes than in 2010). Some blame her “leftist” leanings but that was there all along. I believe she was incorrectly packaged. Rather than the bright, hard-charging ideologue, Risa should have been presented Leni-style, an honest, widowed mother of three running on a mission. Risa needed to show some emotional skin and she did not.

Binay almost got it right. His critics say UNA was trounced 3-9 when the vote was actually 6-6 since Poe, Legarda and Escudero were technically UNA (guest) candidates. Nancy  ranked respectably.

The Catholic vote almost got it right. Mitos Magsaysay claims the Church was instrumental in defeating Risa. Mitos, a Church favorite, did not explain why she ended up number 21, 5.2 million votes behind Risa.

What is the impact of the elections going into 2016?

In the Senate, the addition of Poe, Aquino and Angara to the LP stalwarts of Drilon, Guingona, Osmena and, depending on the day, Recto; forms a bloc which allied possibly with the Cayetanos, Lapid, Pimentel, Trillanes and Villar gives the President a 13 person working majority. On the Minority are Enrile, Sotto, Binay, the Estrada half-brothers, Honasan and possibly Revilla. As for Escudero, Legarda and Santiago you never know.

On the Presidential race, the elections somewhat changed the outlook for Jojo Binay. One, family dynasties is becoming an issue with voters. The VP’s decision to populate the political landscape with his kind could prove to be an overreach. It is nice to see the kids fully employed but at what cost? Was the addition of the Senate to the family trophies worth the perception that this is how things might be in a Binay Presidency?

Two, the victory of a number of inexperienced but ideological newcomers –Grace and Bam but also the likes of Leni Robredo- shows the Filipino is ready to elect a new brand of leader and, as with Grace and Leni, in overwhelming numbers. PNoy has proven prior experience is not needed for high office. In 2016 Filipinos could well be ready, again,  to elect a neophyte as President.

Three, PNoy controls the Senate, the House and possibly the Supreme Court. He can now gun the economy and pursue reforms, bolstering his power to anoint the next President.

Binay is today still the overwhelming favorite for the top spot probably with Jinggoy as VP. This ticket is strengthened by ERAP’s mayoral victory in Manila, a vote rich constituency. However, two things have happened to alter the dynamics: One, the electorate is mutating and, two, political competitors are emerging who do not come from the old political gene pool. Thus Jojo will have noticed Grace handily beat Nancy in his stronghold of Makati as she did JV in ERAP’s fortress of Mandaluyong. Jojo can deal with traditional competition but can he reckon with a new kind of voter phenomenon not born and bred in old style politics?

The answer to this lies partly with the President. PNoy could be a lame duck President in two years. If he indeed wants to preserve his legacy he must now put in place the organization and programs that will promote new leaders who can effectively compete for the highest offices.

 The President may need to think outside the box. For example, what about a Grace/Noynoy ticket in 2016 or, since we are being totally outrageous, a Grace/Kris tandem?

It may sound farfetched but stranger things have come to pass.

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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2 Responses to Post Mortem

  1. Sam S says:

    I wouldn’t say it was 6-6. Remember, UNA expelled Poe, Escudero, and Legarda, to the point where former President Estrada had to find a creative means to endorse Grace Poe (by having his own personal party endorse her).

    As for Risa Hontiveros, she just needs to keep trying. But how much money can she realistically spend on endless Senate campaigns without taking something from special interests?

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