Rule of the Minority

By Dean Bocobo, originally published in his Facebook wall post.

In ten days Filipinos will be electing their fifth President and Vice President under the 1987 Constitution. If the surveys of Pulse Asia and SWS are accurate to within the precision of their respondent samples, it appears that there will be yet another administration that will enter office on the will, not of the People in the conventional democratic sense, but as the choice of about one in three of the voters, while the runners-up split the remaining two thirds of the vote. In other words, there will be no SIMPLE MAJORITY MANDATE to be enjoyed by the winning candidate, which at this point looks to be Rodrigo Duterte, mayor of the southern city of Davao. Thus we are set for another six years of strife in which the Opposition factions are in numerical majority over the Ruling faction.

Such a Rule of the Minority is doomed to failure because it is an aberrant form of government that only bears the FORM of democracy, but not its SUBSTANCE. In a way, this may be an unintended or unforeseen consequence of the electoral system enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, which teetered between a multiparty parliamentary form and a presidential republican form until the very last day of voting by the 1986 Commission that wrote it. The latter form won by a single vote, and it appears that the required refinements to the charter were never made. Thus, for example, no provision for RUN OFF ELECTIONS was made for when, as has happened since then, many parties and candidates run and no one ever achieves more than a mere plurality of the votes in the crowded field. So everyone agrees there ought to be chacha. But it seems the suspicious Opposition Majority will never allow the Ruling Minority to undertake the truly arduous task of revising the Constitution, fearing it will do so as Marcos did in 1972 and use chacha to perpetuate its rule beyond the six years allotted.

There is of course another way to achieve a situation in which there would be a Simple Majority mandate. And that is for the “likely losers” — who are doomed to form that Majority Opposition later anyway — to coalesce, cut a deal, realize they have the majority of the voters among them and back a common candidate. Otherwise we are doomed to another Rule of the Minority.