Electoral process in the Philippines
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The Philippines is a functioning democracy, though popular protests have forced out two presidents in almost more than 20 years: first, Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 for alleged electoral manipulation and second, Joseph Estrada in 2001 for allegedly plundering the economy. The country’s politics have continued to be characterized by volatility. The Philippines is still grappling with Muslim separatists, predominantly those of the island of Mindanao. In addition, the former president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, won a contentious election in 2004 faced an electoral scandal, after a phone call between her and an election official, taped before the election had concluded, turned up. President Arroyo has denied she made any attempt to influence the vote.
Election Reform Project
IFES (International Foundation for Electoral Systems) currently assists the efforts of both electoral officials and civil society stakeholders to advance comprehensive electoral reform programs for greater legitimacy to the electoral process. Specifically, IFES focuses on building the capacity of the COMELEC to modernize, conduct credible elections, and promote mechanisms that build internal capacities and support transparent administrative practices. Additionally, IFES engages civil society in developing effective advocacy and cooperation to retain gains in reform and equip citizens and COMELEC with skills and knowledge to support implementation of successful elections in the long run.
In most democratic political systems, there are a range of different types of election, corresponding to different layers of public governance or geographical jurisdiction. Some common types of election are:
- Presidential election - is the election of any head of state whose official title is president.
- General election - is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are up for election. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation's primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.
- Primary election - is an election in which voters in a jurisdiction select candidates for a subsequent election.
- By-election - is a decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold formal office.
- Local election
- Co-option - is an election where members of a committee (or similar group) vote in order to fill a vacancy on that committee or group.
A referendum is a democratic tool related to elections in which the electorate votes for or against a specific proposal, law or policy, rather than for a general policy or a particular candidate or party. Referendums may be added to an election ballot or held separately and may be either binding or consultative, usually depending on the constitution. Referendums are usually called by governments via the legislature, however many democracies allow citizens to petition for referendums directly, called initiatives. Referendums are particularly prevalent and important in direct democracies, such as Switzerland. The basic Swiss system, however, still works with representatives. In the most direct form of democracy, anyone can vote about anything. This is closely related to referendums and may take the form of consensus decision-making. Reminiscent of the ancient Greek system, anyone may discuss a particular subject until a consensus is reached. The consensus requirement means that discussions can go on for a very long time. The result will be that only those who are genuinely interested will participate in the discussion and therefore the vote. In this system there need not be an age limit because children will usually become bored. This system is however only feasible when implemented on a very small scale.
Electoral systems refer to the detailed constitutional arrangements and voting systems which convert the vote into a determination of which individuals and political parties are elected to positions of power. The first step is to tally the votes, for which various vote counting systems and ballot types are used. Voting systems then determine the result on the basis of the tally. Most systems can be categorized as either proportional or majoritarian. Among the former are Party-list proportional representation and Mixed-member proportional representation. Among the latter are First Past the Post (FPP) (relative majority) and absolute majority. Many countries have growing electoral reform movements, which advocate systems such as approval voting, single transferable vote, instant runoff voting or a Condorcet method; these methods are also gaining popularity for lesser elections in some countries where more important elections still use more traditional counting methods.
While openness and accountability are usually considered cornerstones of a democratic system, the act of casting a vote and the content of a voter's ballot are usually an important exception. The secret ballot is a relatively modern development, but it is now considered crucial in most free and fair elections, as it limits the effectiveness of intimidation.
When elections are called, politicians and their supporters attempt to influence policy by competing directly for the votes of constituents in what are called campaigns. Supporters for a campaign can be either formally organized or loosely affiliated, and frequently utilize campaign advertising. It is common for political scientists to attempt to predict elections via Political Forecasting methods.
Difficulties with elections
In many countries with weak rule of law, the most common reason why elections do not meet international standards of being "free and fair" is interference from the incumbent government. Dictators may use the powers of the executive (police, martial law, censorship, physical implementation of the election mechanism, etc.) to remain in power despite popular opinion in favor of removal. Members of a particular faction in a legislature may use the power of the majority or supermajority (passing criminal laws, defining the electoral mechanisms including eligibility and district boundaries) to prevent the balance of power in the body from shifting to a rival faction due to an election. Non-governmental entities can also interfere with elections, through physical force, verbal intimidation, or fraud which results in improper casting or counting of votes. Monitoring for and minimizing electoral fraud is also an ongoing task in countries with strong traditions of free and fair elections. Problems which prevent an election from being "free and fair" can occur at several different stages:
- Lack of open political debate or an informed electorate. The electorate may be poorly informed about issues or candidates due to lack of freedom of the press, lack of objectivity in the press due to state control, or lack of access to news and political media. Freedom of speech may be curtailed by the state, favoring certain viewpoints or state propaganda.
- Unfair rules. Gerrymandering, exclusion of opposition candidates from eligibility for office, and manipulating thresholds for electoral success are among some of the ways that the structure of an election can be changed to favor a specific faction or candidate.
- Interference with campaigns. Arresting or assassinating candidates for office, suppressing campaign actions (speeches, posters, broadcast advertisements), closing campaign headquarters, criminalizing campaigning, harassing or beating campaign workers. Intimidating voters with threats of or actual violence.
- Tampering with the election mechanism. Confusing or misleading voters about how to vote, violation of the secret ballot, ballot stuffing, tampering with voting machines, destruction of legitimately cast ballots, voter suppression, fraudulent tabulation of results, and use of physical force or verbal intimation at polling places.