More studies needed on local gov’t influence on voters’ choice – researchers

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STUDIES ON the role of local governments should be pursued as their alliances with higher-level political candidates determine the course of national elections, researchers said.

In an interview with The Flame, Philippine Political Science Association president Robert Go cited the need for more research about the coalition between local and national politicians as the topic, remains under-researched. 

“We can look at how the alliances of the national level echo down there [local government] because, in reality, they are the ones that are shaping the results of the national elections,” Go said.

“I think it has not been explored that much because maybe we are looking at it merely in the level of patronage clientelism, the dominance of the national politics,” he added. 

Go, a University of the Philippines associate professor, said the alliance between President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte allowed them to garner support from each other’s home provinces. 

Marcos and Duterte are former local executives of Ilocos Norte and Davao City, respectively.

“Local politicians support Duterte, right? They don’t really support Marcos that much. But because the coalition is Marcos and Duterte, Duterte is able to carry Marcos. On the other side, in the northern Philippines, they have Marcos and not necessarily Duterte. So that’s generally how coalitions work,” Go said.

Marcos and Duterte consistently topped surveys  before beating their respective rivals via landslide during the May 2022 polls.

According to Go, the youth could benefit from researching such a phenomenon as they are the future leaders of the country.

“The youth will be the ones who will be there in the future, and shape their politics in the future. Do they want to just follow the pattern or do they want to digress and determine a different kind of politics for themself?” Go said.

Assoc. Prof. Jeremiah Opiniano, director of the UST Research Center for Social Sciences and Education (UST-RCSSED) said local governments could also be more influential because of their proximity to the voters. 

“Local governments are the frontliners of providing services to the public, where you live, barangay captain, mayor, governor. That’s where you live. It’s not Bong Bong Marcos who will give you monetary assistance… it’s the local government,” Opiniano told The Flame.

He also cited the role of local officials as one of the deciding factors in national elections.

“Well from a political dynamic standpoint, of course, national [politicians] provide the national policy making. But for them to win, they need warm bodies from the ground,” the journalism professor said.

“And then locally, once the local politicians ask for endorsement, reportedly, some funds from national political parties to fuel their local campaigns, then they will vouch for the leaders nationally who endorsed them. So the local is influential, undoubtedly,” he added.

Go and other professors from different disciplines spoke at a two-day conference about mixed-method research. The event, titled “Halo-Halo: The Filipino Mixed Methods Fair,” was organized by the UST-RCSSED. F

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