, May 24, 2024

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Can the President Survive a Voters’ Revolt in 2025?


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Can the President Survive a Voters’ Revolt in 2025?
Public Domain | Presidential Communications Operations Office

The sheen of restored family glory is now in danger of being tarnished by the perception that this government is aimless and adrift 

By Joey Salgado

The steady, double-digit decline in the performance ratings of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., tracked by polling firm Pulse Asia since October last year, reveals a shift in the public mood, an impatience previously restrained by a sense of courtesy or residual loyalty to newly-elected national leaders. 

The survey numbers reveal growing discontent across all regions and socio-economic classes. At its core is the perception that the Marcos administration has failed to rein in inflation and mitigate economic hardships. 

That the double-digit decline in public approval would come this early in the President’s term (newly-elected presidents are historically granted at least a three-year honeymoon by the public) and coincide with early positioning for the 2025 mid-terms could even be politically disastrous, a creeping sense of frustration potentially redefining the political landscape and derailing the President’s agenda.

Slipping 

The President’s approval numbers have been slipping since September 2023 when Pulse Asia recorded a sharp drop of 15 points in his performance ratings, from an 80 per cent approval rating in June to 65 per cent in September. Inflation, specifically the sharp increase in the price of rice, triggered the disapproval.

The 68 per cent approval rating in December 2023 represented only a marginal gain of two per cent for the President.

In its first quarter 2024 survey, Pulse Asia recorded another double-digit drop in his performance rating. From December’s 68 per cent, approval for the President’s performance slipped by13 points to 55 per cent in March. 

Contrast these depressing numbers with the buoyant ratings received for the same period by his two predecessors.

In March 2013, then President Benigno Aquino III garnered a performance approval rating of 72 per cent. Former President Duterte, on the other hand, recorded a performance rating of 87 per cent in the Pulse Asia survey of March 2019. 

These performance surveys - Aquino and Duterte  - were conducted two months before the mid-term elections. In today’s context for the May 2025 mid-term polls, prospective candidates and political parties begin preparations a year before, or next month.

Aquino III and Duterte managed to sustain their high approval numbers well into the start of the mid-term campaign period, converting high approval to political gains. Administration candidates dominated the senatorial mid-terms of 2013 and 2019. 

Sara’s Dilemma

Vice President Sara Duterte's performance rating also suffered a drop from 74 per cent in December 2023 to 67 per cent in Pulse Asia’s March survey. In October 2023, her approval ratings slipped by 11 per cent, from 84 per cent in June to 73 per cent in September.

The Vice President’s survey decline also bucked historical trends. 

A vice president’s approval ratings are largely insulated from declines in the ratings of the president simply because the public’s expectations are higher for the president. But a bounce in a president’s numbers usually benefits a vice president, especially when the vice president is seen as a team player and not an obstructionist.

In the case of the Vice President, her survey results have so far mimicked the upward or downward movements of the President’s. 

Voters’ Revolt?

Who stands to gain should the public’s sour mood turn into a voters’ revolt in 2025? 

A weakened base could swing voters in the direction of senatorial candidates led by former president Duterte who has made no bones about staging a political restoration of his own. 

It could also favor independent senatorial candidates who, for purposes of practicality and prudence, might align themselves with the administration during the elections but act independently once elected.

But the stakes go beyond an independent Senate and a possible hijack of the President’s agenda.

The President’s desire to build his own legacy, one that is distinct from his father and namesake, is under threat by growing discontent.

And the sheen of restored family glory, the real prize for winning the presidency in 2022, is now in danger of being tarnished, rightly or wrongly, by the perception that this government is aimless and adrift, lacking direction, substance, and purpose.


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