DO MOST Filipinos decide for themselves on whom to vote?
On this point, wealthy and poor voters agree: Most think they do. At least, that’s according to a national survey conducted in April 2001 by the polling outfit Social Weather Stations.
This and other findings on the Filipino electorate since the 1980s have been compiled by SWS into a publication titled “Filipino Voting Attitudes and Opinions: Selected Findings from SWS 1984-2001 National Surveys.”
The PCIJ mined the compilation for selected data on voting behavior, especially that of the lower-middle (Class D) and poor (Class E) sectors.
- 1. Commission on Elections More members of Class D (66 percent) and Class E (65 percent) showed a fair amount to a great deal of confidence in the Commission on Elections compared to Class ABC (55 percent). There were also more from the poorer classes (68 percent of D and 63 percent for E) that perceived the election information provided by Comelec to be either very reliable or completely reliable compared to the upper-middle classes (50 percent).-November 1997 surveyClass D (84 percent) and E (86 percent) also outnumbered Class ABC (66 percent) in agreeing with the statement, “The Comelec performed its job independently without favoring any candidate or group” in the May 1998 elections. But they tended to think that Comelec personnel were not able to run an orderly election in their place (52 percent for D, 54 percent for E versus 44 percent for ABC).-July 1998 survey
- 2. National Citizens Movement for Free Elections or Namfrel (July 1998 survey) Classes D and E exhibited a lower level of confidence in Namfrel than in the Comelec. Only 45 percent of D and 49 of E agreed with the statement, “The Namfrel performed its job independently without favoring any candidate or group.” Voters who were aware of Namfrel’s quick count of votes were fewer in Class D (84 percent) and Class E (78 percent) than in Class ABC (95 percent).
- 3. Political parties (1995 survey) Asked if “political parties formed alliances or coalitions only to win in the coming elections and not in order that they might better serve the country,” there were fewer in the D (44 percent) and E (40 percent) classes that agreed with the statement than those in ABC (55 percent). But the number of undecided respondents in the lower classes (31 percent for D and 32 for E) was more than in the upper-middle classes (22 percent of ABC).
- 4. Voting (April 2001 survey) There were more in Class ABC (90 percent) who believed that a person should vote according to his or her conscience than in Class D (82 percent) and E (77 percent). Instead, more of those in the poorer classes (18 percent for Class D and 23 percent in Class E) than in the upper-middle class (10 percent) felt one should vote for the person he or she think would win.The number of respondents who believed that most people decide for themselves on whom to vote was more or less the same in all classes (87 percent in ABC, 85 percent in D and 85 percent in E).Respondents who said they will vote for the candidate with views closest to theirs, regardless, whether or not he/she is popular, were slightly fewer in Classes D (86 percent) and E (88 percent) than in Class ABC (92 percent).On whether their vote, along with the votes of other citizens, had a big influence in determining what kind of government Filipinos would have, 66 percent of Class E and 72 percent of Class D said yes, compared to 83 percent of Class ABC. One-fifth of the poorer classes appeared uncertain.
- 5. Vote buying (April 2001 survey) There were far more among the lower-middle class (30 percent) and the poor (40 percent) than in the upper-middle classes (8 percent) who believed it was not bad to accept money provided one votes according to one’s conscience.Respondents who believed that “candidates with money and influence will most probably win over candidates who are competent but without money and influence” were fewer in Classes D (41 percent) and E (39 percent) than in ABC (52 percent).
- 6. Senatorial candidates (June 1997 survey) On the specific characteristics they were looking for in choosing a senatorial candidate, respondents in all classes listed the top three answers as: (1) helps the poor, (2) has good principles, and (3) approachable.Members of Class E, however, attached greater importance to a candidate having many accomplishments (their No. 4 answer) than to a candidate not involved in any anomalies (the No. 4 answer of ABC and D). The No. 6 characteristic was “comes from a prominent family.” A few respondents from Classes D (2 percent) and E (3 percent) also believed a senatorial candidate must be good-looking.
- 7. Sources of information on elections (November to December 1997 survey) While the upper to the middle-classes (66 percent for ABC and 44 percent for D) relied chiefly on television as their main source of information about elections, the poor or E class (40 percent) depended mainly on radio, followed by television (27 percent). Radio was the second most important source of information on elections for Class D (27 percent), but not for Class ABC which relied next on newspapers (24 percent).When gathering information about the election process, however, both Classes D (31 percent) and E (38 percent) identified radio as the top source of information, followed by television in Class D (29 percent) and both television and the Comelec in Class E (21 percent each). The upper-middle classes depended on television (50 percent), followed by newspapers (19 percent), Comelec (13 percent) and radio (8 percent).
- 8. Influence of the media (March 1998 survey) There were differences on how the media helped voters from different classes choose their senatorial candidates. Class ABC said what they read in the papers or magazines (58 percent) helped them a lot, followed by what they saw on television (55 percent) and what they heard on radio (46 percent). For Class D, all three had more or less the same influence. In Class E, though, the top answer was what they saw on television (41 percent), followed by what they heard on radio (35 percent) and lastly, what they read in the papers or magazines (33 percent).
- 9. The Church (April 1998 survey) There were more respondents in Class ABC (63 percent) who believed “personnel of any church should not support any candidate in any election” than in Class D (59 percent) and Class E (54 percent).