Still anybody’s ballgame

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

Robredo, Lacson, Pacquiao, Marcos, Moreno, Sotto, Duterte, and Teodoro. Those are the names of the possible candidates for the election of the president and vice president in the coming 2022 elections. If you remember your Statistics 101 or Advanced Algebra in college, given the number of elements we can derive the number of possible team-ups using the combination or permutation formula. If there are eight possible candidates, there are 28 possible team-ups for the president and vice president. If all of them are willing to be either the presidential or vice presidential candidate, the permutation will show 56 possible team-ups. Since we know that some of them are only running for president or vice president, our starting point to trim down the possible combinations is really the 28 pairings.

Since we already have Lacson and Sotto as declared tandem, the same combination formula will reduce to 15 the possible pairs. Then we know that Robredo will only run for president and Duterte can only run for vice president, so the possible combinations is down to six pairs. And these are the possible pairings for president and vice president; Robredo and Pacquiao, Robredo and Moreno, Marcos and Duterte, Pacquiao and Moreno, Teodoro and Duterte, and Lacson and Sotto. This does not consider via substitution a Sara Duterte and Teodoro pairing in the later part of the election campaign. These will be further trimmed down to possibly four or five team-ups, as qualitative factors come into play, from now up to the last day of filing of the certificates of candidacy and up to the last day for substitution of candidates.

There are many factors that influence elections in the Philippines, and with eight months to go until election day they all come into play. The biggest factor now is the performance of the government in the last five plus years, especially in the economic and public health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The recession economy which has increased unemployment and poverty levels is fueling dissatisfaction of the citizens and voters which will be bad for the administration candidates. With economic growth prospects happening beyond 2022, these issues are not positive for the Marcos and Duterte, Teodoro and Duterte, and in some way the Lacson and Sotto tandems. The ongoing revelations of graft and corruption scandals are additional ammunition for the anti-administration candidates, so we can see the distancing of Lacson and Sotto team from the administration.

The other major factors are economic stratification, demographics, campaign finance, party organization, and media. A big portion of those below the poverty level may be considered command votes susceptible to money and ward leaders, but their worsening economic condition may diminish these votes especially in the urban areas. There are also more young people below the age of 23 who are first-time voters who are more informed and vocal in their views who are not political party followers. Massive election money will influence political leaders but not an assurance to sway the voters, as half of the money usually stays with the leaders, and loyalty shifts easily to the winners. As there are no longer strong political parties, political machineries are dependent on the local political candidates who are only loyal to themselves. A classic example of this was the Marcos vs. Cory Aquino election, where Marcos had all the money and power, but had to cheat publicly in the counting to avoid a massive defeat, which led to the EDSA Revolution that eventually ousted him. Another major factor is the media which I consider as an even factor for all candidates. Access to the main and social media is open to all candidates and will likely cancel each other. The trolls will not be a factor as unpaid counter-trolls are more effective.

As of this time, in spite of what the surveys and polls are alleging, there are no team-ups that are far ahead of the others. It is still anybody’s ballgame.

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