The 2019 Philippine Elections: Consolidating Power in an Eroding Democracy
- Aries A. Arugay
On May 13, 2019, more than 60 million Filipinos went to the polls for the country’s midterm elections. In this particular ballot exercise, voters elected half of the nationally-elected Senate as well as district and party-list legislative representatives, and local government officials.
President Duterte himself is not subjected to this electoral contest as he is given a single six-year term without re-election until 2022. It has been however a widely-shared shared belief that a midterm election serves as an informal referendum on the president. This becomes more salient given Duterte’s sustained popularity ratings despite his deeply polarising policies and his administration firm control over the republic’s political institutions.
It has been three years since the firebrand leader became Philippine president with the promise to embark on widespread and systemic change. Though there have been some changes put in place, there is also the perception that most things have remained the same. Judging by the conduct of the 2019 electoral campaign and its outcomes, one can surmise that Philippine politics was in “business-as-usual” mode defined by patronage, clientelism, and traditional politics.