SWS: 86% cheering democracy

Posted on December 14, 2016

THE RANKS of Filipinos who are satisfied with how democracy works reached a new record-high in the third quarter, according to a new Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, which also showed that six out of 10 respondents prefer a democratic than any other kind of government.

The survey -- conducted on Sept. 24 to 27 among 1,200 respondents nationwide with sampling error margins of ┬▒3 points for national percentages and ┬▒6 each for Metro Manila, the rest of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao -- found that 86% of Filipinos are satisfied with the democratic setting, surpassing the previous record-high of 80% logged in June 2013.

This year’s latest tally is 7 percentage points higher than the 79% recorded in the June survey.

The survey question posed to respondents is: “On the whole, are you (very satisfied; fairly satisfied; not very satisfied; not at all satisfied) with the way democracy works in the Philippines?”

The SWS said satisfaction with the way democracy works has been above 60% since June 2010. However, from October 1999 to June 2009, it exceeded 50% in only two out of 31 surveys.

The SWS noted that the way democracy works peaked with presidential elections; 70% in September 1992, 70% in July 1998, 68% in June 2010, and the record-high 86% in September 2016.

The previous record of 80% in June 2013 was achieved after the May 2013 senatorial elections.

In contrast, the SWS noted, only 44% were satisfied with the way democracy works after the presidential elections in 2004.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, elected vice-president in 1998 and assumed presidency in 2001 after Joseph E. Estrada was impeached, was declared winner of the 2004 presidential elections amid cheating allegations.

The same survey showed that Filipinos saying "democracy is always preferable to any other kind of government" was at 62% in September, down by a percentage point from 63% in June.

The SWS noted that the preference for democracy has been above 50% since February 2009, and reaching a record-high of 65% in June 2013.

On the other hand, 19% of respondent said that “under some circumstances, an authoritarian government can be preferable to a democratic one,” two percentage points up from 17% in June. It has been below 20% for three consecutive quarters since December 2015.
Moreover, those who are saying "for people like me, it does not matter whether we have a democratic or a non-democratic regime" fell by two percentage points to 18% in September survey from 20% in June. The pollster noted that this is the lowest since June 2013.

For comparison, in the 2015 Eurobarometer survey of 28 European Union member countries, an average of 52% of Europeans were satisfied with the way democracy works in their country.

Meanwhile, in the 2015 Latinobar├│metro survey of 18 Latin American countries, an average of 39% of Latin Americans were satisfied with the way democracy works in their country. It has been unchanged since 2011.

The administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte welcomed the survey result with a commitment to strengthen “democracy as part of its social contract to the governed.”

Communications Secretary Martin M. Andanar, in a statement issued morning of Dec. 14, said Mr. Duterte -- whose administration has been under criticism for the rise in extra-judicial killings supposedly spawned by its illegal drug campaign -- “respects the separation of powers such as the non-interference in the rulings of the Supreme Court and the Senate investigations, such as the probe on extrajudicial killings, and recognition of the independence of constitutional bodies such as the Commission on Human Rights.”

Mr. Andanar also said the President “believes in good governance with special attention on public interest, the efficient delivery of government services, and zero tolerance to corruption.”

He also cited the administration’s observance of “freedom of opinion” and tolerance of “dissent and protest actions as long as public convenience is not sacrificed.” -- Raynan F. Javil