Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Run-off election for President

Posted by butalidnl on 5 August 2009

Last May, Representative Raul Gonzalez filed HB 6183 entitled “Run-off election for President”. This bill is intended to end the tendency for the country to elect minority presidents.

In this set-up, there would be a second round of elections for president, unless a candidate gets more than 50% of the vote. In the second round, the two candidates with the most votes would be the ones left to choose from.

I agree with Gonzalez. The Philippines needs to select its presidents on the basis of a real majority vote, and no longer the plurality (which could mean quite a low percentage of the vote, if there are many candidates).

In addition to ensuring that the elected president was selected by an actual majority of voters, the run-off rule for presidential elections would also help to solve the conflict between “conscience” and “tactical” voting.  When there are more than two candidates, people often have to decide whether to vote for the candidate they really like, or the candidate that they think will win. Of course, if the candidate you like is the one you think is more likely to win, you don’t have a problem. But, what if this is not the case?  Then you may have to choose the candidate which you least dislike among the ones which have a good chance of winning (this is “tactical voting”).

With the run-off election, people will be free to choose among a wide field of candidates, truly on the basis of their preference, during the first round of voting. In the run-off vote, with only two candidates left, they would then choose the one that they prefer from the ones left. Thus, it would be “conscience” vote on the first round, and “tactical” vote on the second round. Quite convenient.

It is also an arrangement that will be good for the country. The winning president will have a real mandate from the people, and would be stronger in dealing with the rest of the government, especially Congress. And with a stronger mandate, there would be less need for shady alliances and the corruption that naturally brings.
In addition, there would also be more candidates who would run for president, representing a wider spectrum of political parties and programs.

After a while, if people get used to the idea of a run-off election for president; I believe it would be a good idea for this to be done for more elective positions, particularly those for executive positions.

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