THE PROSPECT of a closer Presidential vote is looming based on momentum indicated by the March surveys, raising the possibility of a contested outcome that could lead to a repeat of the 2016 electoral protest, a GlobalSource Partners economist said.
Romeo L. Bernardo, the firm’s Philippine country analyst, said in a brief that Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s lead in the polls remains significant, though Vice President Ma. Leonor G. Robredo’s following has swollen to about 24%.
“While March survey results in past elections tended to have good predictive value of election results, many acknowledge that the campaign momentum is on VP Robredo’s side. Will this time be different?” Mr. Bernardo said.
“With less than a month to go until election day, does she have enough time to catch up? And if she manages to significantly narrow the gap towards the homestretch, would a close count lead to a repeat of the 2016 electoral protest (between the same two candidates but for the VP position) and increase business uncertainty?” he added.
He added that the Pulse Asia survey from mid-March showed Ms. Robredo’s voter share jumping 9 percentage points to 24%, which has “invigorated her supporters to intensify their house-to-house push in hopes of winning over supporters of the other candidates.”
“Although the VP’s recent gains have made the presidential campaign more interesting, political pundits continue to eye the wide gap between her and Mr. Marcos. The survey in March showed Mr. Marcos still enjoying a majority of voter support (56%), which is just 4 (percentage points) below his share in February.”
He also noted the prospect of an economy returning to normal, as reflected in the World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) economic outlooks for the Philippines that were “mostly steady.”
The World Bank sees Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022 coming in at 5.7%, down from the 5.8% forecast issued in October. The ADB’s forecast was 6%, unchanged from its view in December.
“The steady outlooks (reflected) the positive impact of increased economic activity following the lifting of Covid restrictions, against the negative impacts of slower global growth and tighter financial conditions as well as rising inflation,” Mr. Bernardo said.
“Nevertheless, both institutions warned of downside risks from a worsening of global conditions, economic and geopolitical, in the face of more limited macroeconomic policy room,” he added. — Tobias Jared Tomas