Candidates of the far left and the far right have joined to claim fraud at the polls in this week's congressional elections in the Philippines, but the evidence indicates that these allegations are the excuses of losers. Independent observers agree that voting in fact was conducted fairly, with the latest results pointing to a powerful rejection of political extremism and sweeping success for candidates endorsed by President Corazon Aquino. It will now be up to the new Congress to show whether this triumph of democratic good sense will also be taken as a mandate for imperative economic change.
The constitution approved by Filipinos earlier this year gives Congress considerable powers while limiting the president to a single six-year term. This makes the still hugely popular Aquino something of a lame duck, even as it gives the Congress--particularly the 24-member Senate--scope and incentive for the pursuit of individual political ambitions. The candidates endorsed by Aquino are by no means candidates who will be supportive of Aquino. Her slate was a coalition of convenience, embracing a good part of the political spectrum save its most flagrant extremes. The expectation is that the coalition will almost immediately start to fragment as its members jockey for power and advantage.