While there was a solid ‘southern vote’ in the 2019 midterm elections, political analyst and Institute of Political and Electoral Reforms executive director Ramon Casiple said on a forum that Mindanao cannot be considered a “single entity” in this election due to candidates having separate vote bases in the region.
Shedding light on the role of Mindanao in dictating the 2022 electoral outcomes, the Mindanao Institute of Journalism (MinJourn), in partnership with InterMedia Services based in Copenhagen, anchored its forum to the theme, “Is There A Solid South?”
In an election where party politics is weakening, “It’s hard to define exactly where the lines are being drawn,” Casiple said. Moreover, he added that these candidates would have their own [vote] bases in Mindanao and other regions.
In the past elections, political parties have provided a central cue for Mindanaoans to cast informed and unified votes, significantly boosting participation in politics.
However, this year, candidates are running independently with fewer to no political parties identified.
According to Casiple, the insignificance of party politics made it twice as hard to determine the actual strength of the Mindanao vote since “it makes for a lot of uncertainty on what the final lineup would be, even at the level of the presidential and senatorial race.”
“It’s very hard to determine actually how the votes will add up, not only during the campaign but even in the actual elections itself. This [situation] is one of the realities that need to be taken into account in this election,” the political analyst said.
Other factors that could divide Mindanao voters in the upcoming election are the lack of experience in using new media to deliver votes and the pandemic’s impact on people’s political choices.
‘No Mindanao Vote’ since 1960
MindaNews Editor-in-Chief (EIC) Carolyn O. Arguillas presented the historical perspective on the power of the Mindanao vote, underscoring ‘No Mindanao Vote’ (NMV) since the late 1960s.
She quoted Former Senator Rodolfo Biazon, who claimed, “The problem with you in Mindanao is that while you are united in advocacies, there is no Mindanao vote. Mindanawons vote based on their regional affiliations.”
According to Arguillas, many political families are also divided nowadays due to their alignment with different presidential candidates.
“Because the running candidates are still a big question mark, political dynasties are also divided these days. Are these new faces or of the same family names? It’s important na makita natin sa ating lugar kung sino ang tumatakbo na naman as 2022,” she said.
The MindaNews EIC further explained that voters need to look out for 5Gs in the upcoming elections: Guns, Goons, Gold, the recently added Gigabytes, and GCash.
Although there is no Mindanao Vote and its potential to decide an election outcome is extremely low, Dr. Patricio Abinales of the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, argued a Visayan vote does exist.
Abinales explained that the Visayan bloc is the combined vote power of Visayas and Mindanao, who both have a strong kinship and affiliation with each other.
“The simple reason for that is while we, Mindanaoans, don’t like imperial Manila, we have this ‘ig-agaw’ relationship with central and eastern Visayas. Something to do with the fact that a lot of us come from these center zones or small-knit communities,” he said.
Based on the Commission on Elections’ recent data, Mindanao and Visayas comprise 44 percent of the voters’ turnout in the upcoming elections, with respective voter populations of 23.3 percent and 21 percent each.
According to Abinales, this trend fluctuates through time and is at par with Luzon’s overall population in tipping the balance of electoral outcomes.
Thus, such a voting grid is vital to consider in the national elections because “there’s no doubt the big drop.”
Abinales concluded his talk by highlighting the more significant role of youth voters in the 2022 elections, making up more than half of the total voter turnout.
The said forum is aligned with the Mindanao Week of Peace celebration, streamed live via MindaNews’ Facebook page Tuesday, November 30.