The Trends in Modern Day Democracies: The Case of Australia and the Philippines

Cristian Carrillo - Teen Aspect - June 17th, 2022
Supporters of Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr cheering during the last campaign rally ahead of the election (RNZ, 2022)
 

Approximately half way through 2022, democracies around the world have begun conducting their elections; despite how different the institutions worldwide are, quite a few trends yet again materialized in this cycle of international elections, for better and for worse. In perhaps one of the most noteworthy elections of the year thus far, Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. emerged victorious in the 2022 Philippine Presidential Election in May. However, the spectacle of this particular election lies in the lineage of the victor; Marcos Jr. stands as the son of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the former dictator of the Philippines whose regime was characterized by fraudulent elections, organized public violence, and human rights abuses (Harvard Divinity School, n.d.). Marcos Jr.’s election is yet another installment of legacy politics dominating democracies. While it is unclear to what extent he will attempt to separate himself from his father’s policies, his ambitions to move away from the United States and towards China already have onlookers on edge. In a statement on a local radio statement, Marcos claimed "If you let the U.S. come in, you make China your enemy. I think we can come to an agreement (with China). As a matter of fact, people from the Chinese embassy are my friends.”


However, around the same time, Australia boasted one of the largest wins for governance in recent history. In their 2022 Election to elect members to the 47th Parliament, climate became the decisive issue driving votes. In fact, the Greens party added 3 seats from this election, totaling 4 in total now, while the Labor party won 77 seats, enough for a majority. With the Labor party’s Anthony Albanese as new Prime Minister, it seems as though the future of Australian politics will be rooted in Labor influence, a welcome shift in the paradigm. The Labor party’s main advocacies of healthcare accessibility, economic revitalization, along with greener, cheaper sources of energy coming to the forefront as the new majority of Australia’s system is a success story for all democracies to follow. With a new Labor majority in conjunction with an uptick in Australian Greens’ seats, a new climate-focused era in Australian politics seems to be on the horizon. Outside of the environment, this election also stands as yet another political sphere wherein more center-left influence is rising. Indeed, Australia’s Coalition, a center-right alliance of the Liberal and National Parties, lost 18 seats on net from the recent election, their influence evidently waning as a result.


When examining these two cases, there lie many lessons to be superimposed onto other countries’ systems. As it pertains to the Philippines, Macros’s ascendency to the presidency reminds us that legacy politics and negative campaigning is still very prevalent. In their election, pro-Marcos groups took to social media in order to viciously attack his campaign rivals, such as incumbent vice-president Leni Robredo. This latter tactic is still unfortunately prevalent in even American politics. Take the 2016 US Presidential election, where micro-targeted advertising on social media was highly effective in garnering undecided voters support for Trump as well mobilizing Republican voters; this online micro-campaigning increased the probability that a non-aligned voter would decide to vote for candidate Trump by at least five percentage points (Science Daily, 2018). Although prevalent, it is key to note that an increase in the amount of negative ads in an election cycle have indeed been shown to correlate with lower voter turnout (Kwok & Kellogg Insight, 2021), so politicians ought to instead opt for more civil campaigning to engage a larger portion of the electorate. As for Australia, other countries ought to follow suit and too prioritize the environment as the integral issue dictating ballots, as the urgency of the climate crisis warrants action expeditiously.


References

Harvard Divinity School. (n.d.). Ferdinand Marcos. Harvard Divinity School. https://rpl.hds.harvard.edu/faq/ferdinand-marcos


Kwok, R & Kellogg Insight. (2021, November 9). “The negative or positive tone of political ads can have a very specific impact on voters, new research shows.” Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/campaign-ads-positive-negative-tone-impact-voter-turnout-2021-11


RNZ. (2022, May, 9). Supporters of Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr cheering [Photo]. RNZ. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/world/466735/philippines-election-marcos-family-eye-return-to-power-as-country-votes


Science Daily. (2018, November 19). “A study analyzes the impact of targeted Facebook advertising on the election.” Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181119155940.htm


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