The Way to Vote

May 10, 2010

As Filipinos go to the polls, the concept of run-off elections seems like the most effective plan for a solid mandate – just choose between the top two options.


Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.—W.C. Fields

I was talking about elections with a French friend, Pierre.

“A run-off election works best for countries with a multi-party system. It solves the problem of a minority president,” he said.

“How so?” I asked.

“Candidates run in a general election and then the top two vote-getters go mano a mano in a run-off election,” he explained.

“Did you vote for Sarkozy?” I asked.

“No and yes. I did not vote for Sarkozy in the general election but I voted for him in the run-off,” he replied.

“What made you change your mind?”

“I did not change my mind. I still will not vote for Sarkozy in any general election, but I voted for him in the run-off to keep the Socialist Party candidate out of the Elysee.”

“So you voted for the lesser evil.”

“That’s one way of looking at it,” he said.

“That’s sad, isn’t it?”

“Yes, you can say that, but look at what happened in the 2000 US presidential election. Bush won Florida by a hair or, to be more accurate, by hanging chads. Those chads would never have been an issue if only Ralph Nader’s followers had voted for Gore. They knew Nader had no chance of winning the presidency, he was not even on the ballot in many states, but they voted for him to make a statement and…”

“But it’s different over here,” I interrupted.

“Let me finish… Gore was the second choice of many of Nader’s followers, but by insisting on their lost cause, they ended up with Bush. Now that, mon ami, is sad.”


Up to 50 million Filipinos are expected to vote on May 10.  This is the first time that all aspects of the elections will be computerised.

Up to 50 million Filipinos are expected to vote on May 10. This is the first time that all aspects of elections in the country are computerised.

Photo credit: Jojo Pensica

“We don’t know yet who’s going to win over here,” I pointed out.

“True, but you know who is going to lose.”


“You do not believe in surveys?” he asked.

“They’ve been wrong before,” I said.

“Do you think the surveys are wrong about JC, Jamby and Perlas?” he asked.


“But they’re wrong about Brother Eddie, Gordon and Gibo?”

“All right, so what’s your point?”

“Your country, like the US, does not enjoy the luxury of a run-off election. You only have one chance to vote. Now, if, by this late date, your candidate is still way behind Aquino, Villar and Estrada, then you must accept the reality that he is going to lose. Be proud that you fought the good fight, but now you have to vote for one of the probable winners if you want to keep the other two out of Malacañang.”

“I’m voting for Aquino,” I said.

“Okay, but what if he was not in the picture, suppose your only choices are Gibo, Villar and Erap, what would you do?”

“I won’t vote,” I replied.

“You don’t care which one of them will hold the key to the nation’s vault for the next six years?”

“Of course I do, I don’t want another crook in Malacañang!” I exclaimed.

“Then you must vote against him.”

“I suppose so.”

“Hmmm… well, what if the only choices you have are Gordon, Villar and Erap, what will you do?”

Sacré bleu! I’ll emigrate to France!”


Manuel Buencamino also blogs at Philippine Commentary


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