FIRST PERSON - Alex Magno - The Philippine Star

Our Constitution requires that Congress, in joint session, canvass the votes for president and vice president.

This produces a bit of an anachronism in this age of digital transmission. We already know how the electorate voted. We knew that from the first hours after the close of polls. This makes the official canvass even less than ministerial.

The constitutional function, however, must be performed, notwithstanding the utter lack of suspense. There is tradition to uphold.

Now we have a complete and official count. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is officially president-elect. He may now engage in the transition process without seeming presumptuous.

There were no surprises either about the outcome of the vote. The scientific tracking polls predicted the trends accurately since last year. Those disfavored by the surveys tried to discredit the polling firms. These attacks were merely exercises in denial. The outcome redeemed scientific polling – once again.

To say May 9 was a watershed moment in the political life of the nation might even be an understatement. UniTeam’s lopsided win will define the political epoch ahead.

The results affirm the role of political parties in defining electoral outcomes. This will be good for the nation in the long run. No longer will our electoral democracy be threatened with abrupt discontinuity by random bands of adventurers, charlatans and clowns claiming to lead “movements” populated by “volunteers.” These are really ad hoc congregations riding on the momentarily fashionable.

The immense landslide is a gift of the Filipino people to themselves.

The successor government will assume the mantle of leadership with a tremendous amount of political capital. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will be the first majority president installed by our voters under the present constitutional framework. That says much.

Marcos and his running mate Sara Duterte did not only win with a majority share of the vote. Their team captured an overwhelming majority of the legislative branch and local government posts.

The president-elect will have overpowering supermajorities in both chambers of Congress. This will enable the new administration to pass reform laws feasibly.

In addition, the president-elect will have overwhelming support from among the provincial and municipal local executives. He will have unmatched capacity to mobilize support at the grassroots.

Not even the exceptionally charismatic Rodrigo Duterte enjoyed this level of political consensus. Yet he was able to break through the gridlock and push his reform agenda through. The successes of the Duterte administration produced the constituency that opened the way to the majority presidency of Marcos.

UniTeam ran on the theme of unity. Our voters bought into this positive narrative that promised to bring forth a new era of consensus that opens new vistas for the nation.

By contrast, the opposition ran a campaign fueled by hated and fear. They foisted a negative message: that the sins of the past will be resurrected in the future should Marcos win. That was a non sequitur. Our voters, in their collective wisdom, saw through the fallacy being peddled and rejected it decisively.

President-elect Marcos should understandably feel humbled by the tremendous mandate given him by our electorate. He promised national unity. Now he has the means to give that life.

The electorate expects nothing less than a heroic presidency. That expectation will surely tend to outrun the capacity of the state to deliver. This will be the sustained challenge of the next six years.

Over the next few weeks, the president-elect will have to deliver key messages to the electorate. He must not try to moderate the expectations of the voters. That will produce disappointment.

Instead the president-elect should continue building on the pragmatic consensus that got him elected in the first place. Our voters are not asking for miracles. They are expecting competence.

The president-elect should not pay attention to the chronic naysayers who will try to portray every appointment and every policy initiative as a step towards reviving dictatorship. They are political zombies thrice rejected by our voters. They are projecting their own unwarranted fears on the people.

These naysayers will try to stifle boldness in the new leadership, thereby reducing it to mediocrity. Our people expect boldness. They expect a visionary leader with an achievable understanding of the nation’s greatness.

Nation-building is the essential appeal of the Marcos brand. It is a task requiring development of a strong state. The president-elect has more than enough political capital to deliver that.

In this modern world, nothing delegitimizes a government as the public perception of incompetence. Conversely, nothing legitimizes a government as the perception that it is constantly at work to deliver the public good.

The Cabinet-level appointees so far revealed indicate the president-elect is attentive to the competence of those who will serve his presidency. This is a good sign. Nothing assures our people more than the sight of an executive team discharging its responsibilities with a great sense of duty.

It helps that the incoming administration is committed to policy continuity. The outgoing Duterte administration impressed our people with its reform policies and economic initiatives. They will be happy the next administration will not reverse those.

Note that a major factor influencing the outcome of the last elections is our people’s desire for continuing the course of reform undertaken by the Duterte administration. Marcos Jr. defined himself as the candidate of continuity. This should make the transition smoother and more efficient than usual.

In a word, the overwhelming election of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is the best outcome the nation could hope for. It paves the way for far-sighted policymaking.



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