Political scions have advantage in elections - analyst

by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Apr 11 2012 01:34 AM | Updated as of Apr 11 2012 09:35 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Surnames of those belonging to well-known political families will continue carry a lot of weight in the 2013 midterm elections, an analyst said Tuesday.

"Political name does carry some mileage. In the national level, the name carries some weight," Pulse Asia president Ronald Holmes told "ANC Presents: Road to 2013," which featured scions of top politicians such as lawmakers Erin Tañada and JV Ejercito.

Holmes said Pulse Asia's pre-election surveys show that more prominent names are making waves in the national level.

However, he said that the family name of a politician is not always a formula for success in elections.

"It's not always about the family name but also what the family has done," he said.

Rep. Tañada, a grandson of former Senator Lorenzo Tañada and son of former Senator Wigberto Tañada, said he still needs to work hard for the 2013 elections.

Tañada, who gained his own prominence as a member of the prosecution team in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, feels he has to work on converting awareness from surveys into actual votes. "That's where I have to study, strategize."

"I'm on my third term as Quezon representative and yes, I'm running for the Senate in 2013," he said.

Rep. Ejercito, a son of former President Joseph Estrada, said he benefits on his father being well-known.

"The name recall is a big advantage for me. I will attribute that from my father's prominence," he said.

However, he added that having a famous surname does not mean an automatic win in the polls.

"In my 9 years as mayor, young voters are hardest to convince. They don't just look at the name but also at performance," he said.

He said that he is seriously considering joining the Senate race next year.

Ejercito said surveys are placing him in the top 12 in the Senate race.

He acknowledged, however, that running for a second term as San Juan representative poses less risk.

Politicians as brands

Holmes, meanwhile, said those aspiring to be senators next year have their work cut out for them -- whether they belong to a politically-known can or not.

"The Philippines is quite big, you're talking about between 55 to 58 million voters.  For example, in our survey we have 74 names. We don't know how many will eventually contend for the Senate. We hope it's not as large as 2010 when there were about 60 names," he said. 

"If we have 2 coalitions, you might end up with 40 names. it's really barnstorming and a bit more diligence in terms of campaigning as well as the messages that they have," he added.

"It's also quite clear in the previous elections, you're looking at a muc more catch-alll message. you're appealing to a median voter, voters who do not necessarily focus on one issue, but like to vote for candidates that have  a brand, are known as a brand, or carry a name that's associated with an institution that I don't think they completely understand also," Holmes said.