The possibility of a majority president

Friday, September 18, 2009

By Manuel L. Quezon III Philippine Daily Inquirer

One defect of the present Constitution is that by abolishing the two-party system, it inadvertently deprived the country of something it has taken for granted about the presidency: that whoever wins it begins the term with a true majority vote. The best that we’ve been able to manage (in 1998 with Joseph Estrada) was a presidency that began with over 60 percent of the electorate having voted for somebody other than the winner.

Charles de Gaulle in his time, seeing a virtually ungovernable France, imposed a Constitution that established a strong presidency, which the French were inclined to favor and which fostered a multi-party system up to a point; but he also armed the presidency with the means to exercise its authority with an unquestionable majority mandate. He did this by putting in place run-off elections.