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Lagman: Unopposed poll bets not good for democracy

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Outgoing Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said yesterday unopposed candidates in an election are bad for democracy.

“There are two kinds of unopposed candidate: those who are absolutely uncontested because no one dared to run for the same position. And those who have only token opponents who have absolutely no chance of winning,” he said.

He said there is no election in case a candidate has no opponent, since the “very world election speaks of options, possibilities and choices.”

“Elections are the bedrock of a democratic republican system. Elections are regularly held to afford the people the sublime opportunity to choose their officials among contending candidates and opposing political parties,” he said in remarks after Bicol University conferred him an honorary doctorate degree.

He stressed that an unopposed candidate is “installed” and not elected.

“He is not truly elected despite the avalanche of irrelevant votes he has garnered. His mandate is superficial. His accountability is suspect,” he added.

Lagman pointed out that there are two explanations about the emergence of candidates without opponents.

“Firstly, the electoral campaign has become too expensive and prohibitive that qualified and well-meaning potential candidates cannot afford the expense. Secondly, the political kingpins of the area have conveniently forged the deal of uncontested candidacies - a malignant quid pro quo,” he said.

“The phenomenon of ‘unopposed candidate’ will send democracy to the mortuary. The executive and legislative departments as well as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) must confront and resolve this mockery of the election process,” he said.

BICOL UNIVERSITY CANDIDATE CANDIDATES COMELEC EDCEL LAGMAN ELECTION ELECTIONS LAGMAN OUTGOING ALBAY REP UNOPPOSED
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