Carlo's Think Pieces

Reflections of a Filipino in the Netherlands

Posts Tagged ‘elections’

After a Trump Defeat

Posted by butalidnl on 3 November 2016

The US elections are still some days away; and any side can still win. However, the odds that Hillary Clinton will win the elections are quite good. Trump will lose. Let us take a look at how the how the loss will be for Trump.

Accepting the Results
Inspite of all the furor about whether or not Trump will accept the results of the elections, I believe that he will accept the results of the elections as soon as they are declared. Cinton’s victory will be by a large enough margin that there could be no objection to the result. Trump will probably avoid saying that the elections were rigged, because this may cause violence, and he will be blamed for it. He will resort to blaming his loss on the media and to Republican ‘traitors’.
Incidents of angry Trump supporters being violent will be isolated and short-lived.

Things will have Changed
Trump will not be able to go back to the way things were before his presidential bid.
The accusations of sexual assault by a number of women will keep him busy for a long while. He will probably not sue them, because it would be difficult for him to prove them wrong, and things will turn out worse for him if he sued and lost. After the elections, I expect more women to step up and accuse him of misbehavior.

The campaign has broken the aura of invincibility and impunity around Trump. Media is no longer scared of exposing him in various ways, and people are now more open to revealing his bad business practices (e.g. the case of Trump University).

His businesses will suffer from his presidential bid. His brand is now ‘damaged goods’ for a very big part of the population. Many of his former customers will no longer consider it classy to go to a Trump resort or to buy Trump branded products. His current supporters are not the kind of people who patronized his luxurious brand.
The Trump brand has suffered immensely in Latin America and the Muslim world.

Trump’s unethical business practices will be subject to increased media scrutiny. As a result, Trump will have to stop his practice of employing illegal immigrants, using dubious tax avoidance strategies, etc.. This will significantly increase his cost of doing business. If the Democrats win the House of Representatives, the loopholes that Trump used to avoid paying income tax will be closed.

Trump’s political clout (i.e. his ability to influence politicians) will not be the same as before. Previously, he would contribute to a wide range of politicians, and then collect favors as he needed. Now, only those who are politically aligned to him will ask for his support and potentially do him favors.

Trump TV
What Trump has gained is his popularity among a segment of working-class whites. Many of them will continue to be devoted fans after the elections. There are indications that Trump is preparing to launch Trump TV, which will cater to his new-found base of support. If he did so, it will have to position itself to the right of Fox News.
I believe that the space to the right of Fox News is too small. What will the difference be between Fox News and Trump TV in programing, in news content? If Trump’s outlandish statements would be the main difference, they will not be enough to sustain its audience for long.
It would make good business sense for him not to launch ‘Trump TV’, since it is poised to be a big failure.

Chaos Among Republicans
The elections will probably result in a Democrat majority in the Senate, and a reduced Republican majority in the House of Representtives.  This means that Clinton will be able to appoint progressive Supreme Court judges; but will have to court moderate Republicans to get her legislative proposals through the House of Representatives. She would need only a few Republican congressmen to break any boycott by the Tea Party and Trump’s hard=line followers in Congress. In the previous Congress, the Republicans had boycotted everything that President Obama proposed.

Republicans who supported Trump will blame those who didn’t for the defeat. This internal struggle will push the more moderate Republicans to cooperate more with the Democrats in passing legislation.

The Republicans  will have to reevaluate their opposition to the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) and gay marriage. If they continue to oppose these, they stand to lose even more ground in subsequent elections.

Trump will retain his wealth after the elections are over; but he will lose a lot of prestige, and have a lower capacity to make money. He will continue to make political statements that may cause some commotion from time to time.

It is even likely that Trump will make another try for the presidency in 2020, especially if Clinton runs for reelection. If he does, the Republicans will be able to stop him early in the primaries.


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Vote Wisely in Philippine Elections

Posted by butalidnl on 14 October 2012

The candidates have now all filed their CoCs (Certificate of Candidacy) with the Comelec. The election season has unofficially begun, even though the period when candidates could properly campaign has yet to start.  One thing that stands out of the candidates list is that it is full of old NAMES – often these aren’t the politicians we knew, but their children or spouses. They run because people would still vote for them out of name recall. In the Senatorial race, a lot of the candidates with known names are running: Cayetano, Enrile, Angara, Aquino, Magsaysay, Binay, Villar, Estrada (Ejercito).. The local and congressional candidates also have known names, from established political dynasties. Voters will often face the choice of which political dynasty they will support this time.

What are honest people, who sincerely want the country to develop, to do in the face of all this? A lot, actually.

What Voters Can Do
To be a good voter, you should do a lot more than show up at the polling station come election day. Casting your ballot should be the end of a process in which we we choose our officials.

Study the candidates: their performance in office, or their CVs if they haven’t served yet. See if their talents match the position they seek. (for example, one could say that a good debater – like Miriam Santiago – may not really fit in an executive position, like president, but would be great as a Senator). Researching a candidate’s performance and background is a lot easier to do today, compared to previous elections Many candidates are easy to Google, if not the candidates themselves, news articles about them.
It is important to see the qualifications of the person himself/herself, and not that of their family. A candidate from a political dynasty may be good; conversely, a ‘new’ politician could be incompetent or corrupt.

Talk to people about your choices. It might surprise you how many people are willing to listen to your views (that’s why its important to study the candidates well yourself). In turn, people will also have opinions and information which may cause you to change your mind. The important thing is that people discuss – this is the essence of the democratic process. The more people discuss the merits of various candidates, the more they can make good, thought-out, voting decisions.

Having well thought-out voting preferences has a ‘multiplier effect’. Many people, who are not well-informed about politics, often seek out those who they think could give them good advice on whom to vote for. They would ask their employers, colleagues, friends, even neighbours for advice.

Make demands from candidates. Ask them to make concrete promises e.g. “Expand the capacity of the city’s hospital” “Stop a proposed open-pit mining project” or “Support the passage of the Freedom of Information bill”. The thing is, they will be pushed to implement their promise, or lose your (and many other people’s ) support in the next election.
Don’t ask for something vague, like:”Be tougher on crime” or “Fight corruption.” This is easy to promise, and it would be difficult to measure whether they fulfilled the promise or not.

With social media nowadays, it is a lot easier for groups of citizens to make demands of candidates.

Accept the bribe, but vote your conscience. If someone gives you money to vote for a candidate, accept it; but then go ahead and vote for the one you chose in the first place. If the candidate you chose was the source of the money, you may want to reconsider whether you still will vote for him.

Join citizen initiatives. There are a lot of initiatives, online and offline,  which you can join, which work for cleaner and better elections. Epalwatch for example goes against premature campaigning and the use of public funds for campaigning.  Namfrel observes the conduct of the elections themselves. There are many groups doing voter information drives.

And finally on election day…
Vote for candidates that are good.
Write down in advance the candidates you are voting for. Don’t make decisions in the polling place itself – because such decisions are going to be made more out of name-recognition than sound judgement.
If none of the choices for a position is good, don’t vote for anyone – just leave that space blank in the ballot. In choosing Senators, you are not obliged to choose 12 – just vote for those you deem to be good, even if that means you only vote for four or five.
You are not required to choose the ‘lesser evil’. People who vote for a candidate they dislike less very often regret their vote later. It’s much better to just leave the position blank on the ballot.

Of course, by voting wisely, one doesn’t expect to change the political system overnight, or after one election. But as more and more people fully exercise their democratic responsibilities and vote wisely, things will gradually change for the better. Full democratic participation is a necessary ingredient to political transformation; change will happen as people more fully exercise their democratic duty to vote wisely.

Posted in Philippine politics, Philippines, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Campaign on Issues

Posted by butalidnl on 9 June 2010

It is election day today, for the national parliament of the Netherlands. And the campaign that was just finished was truly one in which centered on issues, and solutions to problems. It is amazing, that when compared with elections in the Philippines, or even those in America, the Dutch seem to be quite mature and sober in campaigning, and in choosing which parties will rule them for the next four years.

The Central Planbureau (CPB, or national planning bureau) determined that the next government should reduce the budget by Euro 20 billion in five years, so as to meet the Maastricht treaty’s requirement of maximum 3% budget deficit. So, all the parties drew up their party electoral programs with this in mind. And they really made decisions on where to cut programs, restructure, or where to spend more. And these programs were approved by party congresses and presented to the CPB for computation as to what the effects will be on things like employment, purchasing power, etc. And then, the programs were presented to the public.  The implications of the programs are diverse, and they affect different people in different ways. So, the people need to look into party programs to find out which party to vote for.

One instrument that people use are the computer programs on the web, which asks people for their positions, and compute which party best fits with them. Sites like that of the Stemwijzer (there are actually a lot of sites like this) are quite popular; and very many people choose their party (partly) on the basis of the advice of these sites. My daughter, who used to vote for the Green Left party; did the test in the Stemwijzer, and a number of other such sites, and found out that the Labor party would best fit her various positions. Her boyfriend, however, got a similar result, but didn’t go for Labor, but chose instead the second choice that was offered. It all depends. Of course, the Stemwijzer and other such programs sometimes comes out with strange results; like when people ended up with recommendations to vote for the Animal Party (2 seats in parliament) – this was because if you say yes to certain positions of the Animal Party (which is a one-issue party, and which has similar stands to Labor or Green Left in other issues) you end up with the recommendation to vote the Animal Party. Luckily, there are second and third choices, which you could decide to take.

The other way to get to know party programs (or at least their most relevant aspects) is to listen to debates among the party leaders. There are numerous debates, three of which were televised.  And they really got to debate on their programs, the implications for various segments of the population, and why the other parties got wrong policies. Yesterday,they also debated about possible coalition governments; and the leaders were asked why people should vote for them and not the other party. A whole lot of people made their decisions on the basis of these debates.

And the various media also did their own analysis of the various party programs. One program, Network, did an analysis of the VVD (Liberal) party’s program’s effect on a mother on welfare. So, there was this mother who cried on TV, saying the VVD program will take away from her 200 Euros a month, and that they were quite cruel for proposing to do that. This incited the VVD leader to storm out of the program and demand an apology. But, Network didn’t apologize, since it really believed that the VVD program will be disadvantageous for single mothers on welfare. Of course, the issue is not clear cut, since party programs very often take away things in one part, and give compensation in another part, so we can never say for certain if it is true or not.

The various newspapers and magazines also had their own analysis of the various party programs. So, even without reading a single program, you can really get a good idea of what the various parties are proposing to do.

As for advertising, only the VVD and the SP (Socialist Party) aired advertisements on TV throughout the campaign period. They seem to have the most campaign funds. However, on the day before the elections, it seems that a whole lot of parties had advertisements. Radio and newspaper ads were rather sparse. Posters were only put at the designated places, or on the windows of the various parties’ supporters.

Public campaigning is usually done at public sites, e.g. the open market or the town square. And many parties also engage in house-to-house campaigning.

Posted in politics, The Netherlands | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Can “Bangkok” Also Happen in Manila?

Posted by butalidnl on 20 May 2010

With the Thai army dispersing the “red-shirts” from their positions in Bangkok, some people ask whether or not Manila is also ripe for a Bangkok-like class struggle. After all, they say, there is also a big gap between rich and poor in the Philippines. And Thailand and the Philippines are sort of comparable in terms of size, stage of development, etc.

Safety Valves
Well, I don’t think so. The main reason for saying so, is that the Philippines has various “safety valves” that the Thais do not have. In the first place, come the OFWs. People who are not able to find jobs in the country have the option of going abroad. Filipinos are very much able to go abroad to work, compared to the Thai (who don’t speak English, and thus aren’t able to work abroad en masse). Thus, we can say that the option of working abroad is one of the safety valves in Philippine society.

The second safety valve, ironically, is our home-grown communist insurgency. Why would that be?  People who are particularly mad about the present system have the option of joining the NPA in the countryside. Despite various efforts, the NPA remains restricted to countryside operations, where they face local challenges e.g. armed right-wing groups etc. The NPA does not retain that much left-over energy to fight in the cities. And the CPP-NPA is actually already coopted into the political status-quo and will not do anything to really threaten it.(see: CPP-NPA Helps Maintain Status Quo in the Philippines)

And then comes elections, which are particularly popular for Filipinos. Our elections “work”, in the sense it brings about a relatively peaceful transfer of power (though still within the ruling elite). Despite everything, elections are part of a system of patronage, even of (temporary) dissent, and it does let off so much of the pressure in the system.  The circus atmosphere of elections also distract people from their pressing problems.

And the people still believe in elections. They still think that change is possible through the electoral process. If only good leaders get chosen, the country will improve. They believe a lot more in elections than revolution or other extra-constitutional means to change things. Military coups don’t really make it in the Philippines – the only successful coup (if you could even call it that) was the 1986 “People Power” revolution.

It is only when the result of elections are not respected, that Filipinos opt for more violent means. This happened in 1986, when Marcos attempted to thwart the election result in his favor. And, sad to say, again in 2001 when a middle class “People Power” revolt overthrew Erap Estrada; effectively negating his landslide victory in elections. This gave rise to”EDSA 3″ where many poor people demanded the return of Estrada to power, and ended up in rioting that reached Malacanang. We can compare EDSA 3 to “Bangkok”, because it was a revolt of the poorest segments of the population; however, EDSA 3 failed miserably, and one factor in this was the lack of leaders.

Can EDSA 3 Happen Again?
Perhaps. But it will not be successful, especially because many of the people who could be their leaders are now involved in elections, or in NGOs, in the countryside (as NPAs) or abroad. The main mass of people tend more to the pro-election, gradual reform of society – revolution or urban uprising are just not attractive.  There is no way that they will be able to sustain an uprising in the city for weeks, even months.

Posted in Philippine politics, Philippines, politics, World Affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I mailed in my vote today

Posted by butalidnl on 23 March 2010

I mailed in my vote for the Philippine elections today. I received the election “kit” about three weeks ago, but I only did it today.  Part of the delay is having to get a stamp pad for the fingerprint. The rest of the delay, I guess, is that  it was still some time till it HAD to be sent in.

Well, I mailed the ballot to the Philippine embassy in The Hague, where it will stay unopened till 10 May. The ballot is an “old fashioned” manual one; you have to write down the names of the candidates you select. On 10 May, the votes will be counted, and the returns will then be sent in to the Philippines.

Obviously, I am a Filipino citizen; although this is really not that obvious, since many Filipinos here in the Netherlands are no longer Filipino citizens.  I “regained” my Filipino in September 2003, and immediately registered to vote. However, during the 2004 elections, I was disqualified from voting because I had not been a Filipino for a whole year by this time. (I thought that this was rather ironic, having been born a Filipino.) Anyway, I was sent election materials in 2007, and now also in 2010.

I was one of those who campaigned for the right of Overseas Filipinos to vote in Philippine elections. I had been campaigning for this right since about 1992, making me one of the few in Europe who campaigned for it that early. I was one of the delegates during the 2001 Overseas Filipino delegation’s visit to lobby for the bill; visiting the President, the Senate, Congress and Comelec during the time. So, when the Overseas Absentee Voting bill passed, followed shortly by the passing of the Dual Citizenship law, I took it as my obligation (and privilege) to “regain” my Filipino citizenship, and register as a voter.

By voting, I affirm my being part of the Filipino nation, and that I am doing my part by participating in the exercise of elections.  I know that many people think that our votes don’t count, and that the rich and powerful will continue to get their way nevertheless. But I believe that every little thing that ordinary citizens do does count.

Posted in Overseas Filipinos, Philippine politics, Philippines | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »