Philippines: May 15, 2001

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President Gloria Arroyo's supports won a narrow edge in Senate elections. Former president Estrada still is quite popular among the poor and ignorant. As a former movie Actor, Estrada knows how to play to a mass audience. He has delivered a consistently convincing performance as the Champion of the Poor (despite engaging in corrupt practices that help the poor stay poor.) Estrada is also buddies with many of the major players in the corruption game, and thus has access to substantial political and financial resources. The last thing this crew wants is real reform. The death toll for these elections was 55. One aspect of corruption in the Philippines is intimidation and bribery at polling places. Another is the custom of voting for the more famous candidates and ignoring political parties. Selling clean government is easy, getting clean politicians elected isn't.

 

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