(First published in the Philippine Online Chronicles)
It is certainly less newsy to say that traditional politicians have once again dominated the recently concluded May 10 elections. In this electoral game where name recall counts, political capital almost inherently resides in familiar family names.
But to say that the Left, which is usually marginalized in political affairs, has advanced both in electoral participation and mass support – that is something new to Philippine elections.
A number of analytical pieces indicate that the national democratic (natdem) bloc (also called by some as Makabayan bloc) of the Philippine Left scored higher than other “left-wing” groups in the party-list race in terms of votes garnered. This is aside from the fact that the natdem-aligned party-list groups have grown in number over the years – from just one (Bayan Muna, 2001) to six.
According to Prof. Danilo Arao of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, the mass base of progressive party-lists or the natdem-aligned party-lists has increased by 30 percent. Arao computed this by comparing the total votes cast for these party-lists in 2007 and last May 10 elections.
Increase in mass base by natdem-aligned party-lists could still be higher since votes for party-list groups are still partial (90.26 percent of election returns).
With a base of 2.88 million, the natdem bloc overshadows all other “leftist” groups which participated in the party-list race. It is almost three times (291 percent) larger than Akbayan, which has 986,924 votes and . More so, it is 22 times larger than Partido ng Manggagawa, which has only 130,039 votes.
According to Arao, Makabayan party-lists Gabriela Women’s Party, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Kabataan, and ACT Teachers are assured of one seat each. It remains to be seen whether Gabriela and Bayan Muna will have an additional seat each, depending on the final tally of total votes cast for party-lists as guaranteed by the April 2009 Supreme Court ruling.
The natdem bloc stands to gain five seats in the 15th Congress at the minimum and seven at the maximum.