Wednesday, February 10, 2016

(First) The true mandate of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC)... to hold competitive elections and create the environment for it.

All data from the Comelec except for gender, which were
determined based on the name. 
There are other measures but at its simplest, competitive elections mean that there is more than one candidate for an elective post. For the elections this May in the National Capital Region (NCR),  955 candidates are vying for 336 elective posts. 

These figures help explain how participative
 are the elections for local positions in the NCR.
This highly urbanized region and home to 6.25 million voters has 17 towns and cities.  It is broken down into 42 districts from which councilors are elected. A town or city has from two to six councilor districts depending on the population.  There are also 30 congressional districts within the NCR.

On voting day on May 9, voters in the NCR will choose one mayor and one vice-mayor, between six and eight councilors, and one member of congress or parliament.

Twenty-seven parties are competing in the NCR.

However, my take on competitiveness revolve around the data from  the table below.  Obviously, questions begged to be asked.

1.  Why are voters not presented with at least one other candidate to choose from?  Why did not parties compete?  Did the voters agree that no other candidate could represent them?

2.  What led candidates and voters to "capture" or game the system?
3.  What local political and electoral conditions could explain this situation?
4.  If at all, how might the cost of becoming a candidate or the cost of getting elected contribute in the explanation?
5.  What might prevent this situation from happening?

I will bring up more points in the upcoming posts, but for now a few future possible remedies:

1.  National parties should explain in writing to the voters, through the Comelec, why they could not field candidates in places where candidates are unopposed.  They should cite in detail the constraints they faced?
2.  In an unopposed situation, the candidate should at least get 50 percent of the valid votes in order to be elected.  If not, a re-election.

What's your take?

1 comment:

  1. RECEIVED BY EMAIL: "Just very brief comments. I can discuss each item you raised at length but let me limit myself to a few comments. Take me out for a beer if you wish to discuss:

    1. There are no 'political parties' in the Philippines in the strict sense of what a party is. What we have are "groups" to be used as vehicles for achieving power. They are personality based and last only as long as the 'persona' is engaged. Laban under Cory (no more); Lakas under Ramos (it is a party in paper); Kampi under Gloria (does it exist?); Partido ng Masa Pilipino under Erap is a nominal party since Erap still 'erupts'; the Nacionalista Party was used by Villar in 2010 to gain power but failed. Now it has three candidates for VP. Onli in da Pilipins! UNA is there for Binay. The moment he loses, the party will disappear. Only the Liberal party has a semblance of a political party. But a party with no discipline is no party in the tradition of the western democracies.

    2. Do voters agree? Unless you have a COMELEC that is pro-active, you can never tell. Suggestions were made that a space in the ballot be provided for a "NO VOTE" i.e. the voter does agree with the choices. This is common in Latin American countries like Mexico, African countries like South Africa and even Asian countries like Thailand. This was proposed in social media but the lackeys of the COMELEC derided the suggestion.

    3. We cannot compel the so-called political parties to explain why they did not field candidates. That is their prerogative to field or not to field a candidate in the same manner that candidates for the primaries in the USA can skip any State where they do not wish to have their name in the ballot.

    4. A threshold number of votes for an unopposed candidate is a good idea and can be legislated. Your threshold of 50% is however very high. We do not have what is referred to as 'second round' elections. Further, ours is purely a 'plurality system' so much so that we have not elected a President after Cory that had a majority vote. Thailand has a provision in its last election law (laws change as often as the junta changes) that an unopposed candidate must at least garner 20% of registered voters to be considered elected. In our case the candidate needs ONLY ONE vote. In 2005, there were five candidates in Thailand who were unopposed but failed to garner 20% votes. They were not allowed to take their seats in parliament."