Accounts of the various local, congressional, and national elections held in the Philippines since 1986 have highlighted three enduring features of Philippine democracy in the post-Marcos era. First of all, large numbers of politicians who held office for many years in the Marcos and pre-Marcos periods have won reelection, as have numerous other members of long-entrenched political families (Soriano 1987; Gutierrez 1992). Secondly, most of these politicians and clans have been known to enjoy not only political longevity but also economic preeminence within their respective municipal, congressional, or provincial bailiwicks, through landownership, commercial networks, logging or mining concessions, transportation companies, or control over illegal economies (Gutierrez 1994). Finally, evidence that fraud, vote-buying, and violence have decisively shaped the conduct and outcome of these elections (Tancangco 1992) has led some commentators to conclude that the celebrated transition from “authoritarianism” to “democracy” in Manila has been less than complete in its local manifestations (Kerkvliet and Mojares 1991, 5). With the revival of electoral politics in 1987, analysts thus began to offer evocative descriptions of, and various explanations for, the distinctive nature of Philippine democracy, with references to political clans, dynasties, caciques, warlords, and bosses appearing with great frequency in journalistic and scholarly accounts, and terms like cacique democracy, mafia democracy, feudalism, warlordism, and bossism gaining considerable currency.

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