AFafter the Ffirst round of elections on April 10, followed by the runo on April 24Ff, France elected re-elected Emmanuel Macron as president for another Iffive years against Marine Le Pen, 58.54% against 41.6%. But by all indications these numbers are ambiguous as French media reported that Macron Ifrm’s support couldn’t have been more than 28%, representing those who voted for him in the runoff. The others were beavers “who want to build a dam” against the far-right Le Pen without really supporting him. On the other hand, the majority of the 42% who opted for Le Pen wrote his name on the ballot because they wanted to express “anger and resentment” against the Macron government which let them down.
More interestingly, Le Pen lost the election because many of those who shunned her weren’t exactly Macron supporters, but she was unacceptable to many French people because of her father, “an extreme straight line not reconstructed”. His poor executive experience also reduced his votes.
Macron shouldn’t get too excited to celebrate his victory. He would claim the crown as 28% of voters actually abstained, the highest number in 50 years. Some 8.6% of those who voted either returned a blank ballot or canceled their ballot. One in four French people stayed away from the first polls. Macron would also be challenged by the need to establish a majority in parliament, with a huge threat from leftist presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon who Iffinished a solid third on the opening lap. The formation of a rainbow coalition is inevitable if Macron takes his legislative program seriously. In France, this is called cohabitation.
And Macron’s legislative list is long and difficult to navigate French Parliament.
He will have his hands full with the pension reform which could be divisive. The so-called “yellow vests” movement could form around the issue of inflation in France. He will have to deliver on his campaign promise to overhaul France’s climate policy which involves the green transition and implementation ranging from energy conservation to air pollution and tree planting. Major reforms of the European Union are also on Macron’s agenda, as he would need considerable skills to lead France through the Ukraine-Russia war.
We don’t see electoral ambiguity happening in the Philippines on May 9.
What is emerging is the polarization of politics in the color-coded political camps of Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Bongbong Marcos. If there had been a second round (if the Philippine Constitution had authorized it), it would be between them two who would have received the greatest number of votes. It will not be a three-way or 10-way contest. The other presidential candidates would not have obtained enough votes to join the final showdown if we were on French soil. Their tiny survey results seem to confirm this weak ability to inspire votes; their rallies are sparse and there is little euphoria on which to build momentum. Unlike Marcos Jr., however, they never lacked the courage to stand up for hours and debate in front of the public with the utmost respect for the electorate and our democratic process.
But there could be potential problems.
Unlike France, the next leaders in the Philippines could be selected based on “soft facts” crafted by trolls and paid bloggers, misinformation if you will, rather than hard facts. The truth in this country seems to have been devalued to such an extent that people of almost every income class would rather depend on TikToks and tweets than actually study the issues and form their own judgment. With unprecedented resources behind him, Marcos Jr. has been in this game for six years as he also protested his loss to VP Leni in 2016.
In a recent interview, he reiterated his reservations about the Iffinal decision of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal declaring Ms. Robredo duly elected Vice-President. Yet he was the one who claimed to have been deceived, he was the one who chose the speciFic provinces for the recount, and it was he who saw that VP Leni’s margin of more than 200,000 votes even increased by about 15,000. Marcos Jr. must be informed that he questions the integrity of the same institution that would decide any disputes that may arise on May 9.
Some NGOs have taken up the cause of verifying the content of these downloads on social networks. At that time, more and more people learned the truth about Marcos Jr.’s college degrees, his public service record, Marcos Sr.’s looting of the public treasury, and human rights abuses, as well as Marcos Jr.’ s conviction for a tax offence. It is a matter of time before the Filipino people succeed in turning the tide on the Goebbels-style disinformation campaign. But for many unsuspecting Filipinos, six years of repetition have entrenched these lies in people’s minds.
Umberto Eco’s book On literature argues that while truth is powerful, “experience teaches us that truth often takes a long time to prevail, and the acceptance of truth costs blood and tears”.
What could hasten the emergence of truth?
One is for those who support the truth to realize that the results of the investigation may not be conclusive. It is true that many commentators expressed their thoughts on the enormous challenge of consolidating VP Leni’s momentum and converting it into actual votes. For the latest survey results available, continue to favor Marcos Jr. even as he loses momentum and VP Leni gains him by a large margin. On the other hand, an analysis using Google Trends and applying this to the French elections, rated Macron and Le Pen at 57% and 43%, respectively. The real result on April 24? Macron won 58.5% of the vote while Le Pen finished with 41.5%.
So far in the week ending April 18, VP Leni garnered 54% of all Google searches. With Marcos Jr. less than halfway at 21%, it looks like the Roses have it.
Of course, neither the poll results nor Google Trends win the election. It is the votes that will be cast on May 9 that will do so.
There’s something about VP Leni’s campaign that’s noticeably missing from Marcos Jr’s. It’s momentum. It’s the kind of momentum coming from Vice President Leni herself in inspiring people to think beyond this generation and the people themselves who are willing to volunteer service. They spend their own money and do whatever might help their candidate and their ticket. “Kami bayad hindi“(We don’t get paid) has been the distinctive chant of VP Leni’s crowds, which number in the tens and hundreds of thousands in every major city and province. The snowball continues to this day.
Because beyond the massive support of star artists, VP Leni’s campaigns are speeches with substantial political and economic content. She offpresents an agenda for change in governance, rule of law and justice, public health management, economic growth and jobs, and territorial integrity.
It should come as no surprise that the business community is more comfortable with his candidacy; it has a clear government platform. No guesswork is needed as it is always engaged in public debates. No trace of corruption could be thrown at her or her family. She is not a product of social networks. She’s a real person who experiences fatigue – she takes off her high-heeled shoes when her feet command her to. She does not hesitate to take public transport. She enjoyed serving even before her foray into politics.
The two top runners should realize that the next six years after Duterte (AD) would be tougher than when he took over the presidency in 2016. Not rosy, but there are definitely more thorns to be seen. The world is just recovering from two years of pandemic shutdowns and another threat is looming. Russia has changed the equation in the oil and grain industry. Therefore, governance is harder to execute to achieve economic recovery and provide jobs for our people.
It is important that we also remember the availability bias. When browsing, we tend to prefer a bad map to no map at all. The beauty of VP Leni’s candidacy is that it is offa card, and it’s the right one.
Diwa C. Guinigundo is the former Deputy Governor of Monetary and Economic Sector of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). He served the BSP for 41 years. From 2001 to 2003, he was Alternate Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC. He is the Senior Pastor of Christ Fulness International Ministries in Mandaluyong.