Nearly four out of five Filipinos remain satisfied with how democracy is working in the country—two years into the Duterte administration—and still prefer it over other forms of government, a Social Weather Stations survey released Tuesday showed.
The results of the First Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey—conducted over two months ago, from March 23 to 27—show that 78 percent of Pinoys remain satisfied with Philippine democracy, but down 2 percentage points from when the survey on the same subject was polled last year.
“Satisfaction with the way democracy works has been above 60 percent since June 2010, ranging from 64 percent to 86 percent,” the SWS said.
The House hearings on the impeachment complaint against deposed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and President Rodrigo Duterte’s position on having a joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea with China were among the major issues in the weeks leading to the survey.
It was conducted ahead of Sereno’s successful ouster from the high court through a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Statistically, the latest survey was like the 79 percent recorded in June 2016, at the end of the previous Aquino administration. In contrast, it exceeded 50 percent in just two out of 31 surveys from October 1999 to June 2009, the pollster added.
The survey sampled 1,200 adults—300 each from Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao—with error margins of ±3 percent for national percentages and ±6 percent for regional percentages.
Public satisfaction with the way democracy works usually peaks during a presidential election year, such as the record-high 86 percent rate in September 2016, 70 percent in both September 1992 and July 1998, and 68 percent in June 2010, SWS added.
However, this plummeted to just 44 percent in June 2004, after then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo defeated popular actor Fernando Poe Jr, earning her a new six-year term after serving the remaining three years of deposed President Joseph Estrada. Poe died shortly after those polls.
The March 2018 survey also showed that three in five Filipinos, or 60 percent, believe that democracy is “always preferable” to any other kind of government.
Just 19 percent believed that under some circumstances, an authoritarian government can be preferable to a democratic one, while 21 percent thought it wasn’t important if the Philippines remained a democracy or not.
The number of Filipinos who continue to prefer democratic rule in the March survey mirrors the 61 percent recorded in June 2017, SWS said. This number has been over 50 percent since February 2009, and peaked at 65 percent in June 2013, it added.
One in five Filipinos believe that under some circumstances, an authoritarian government can be preferable to a democratic one, but SWS said this mark has remained below 20 percent since December 2015, spanning five straight polls.
The needle has barely moved for people who think it doesn’t matter whether the country has a democratic or non-democratic regime, from 20 percent in June 2017 to 21 percent last March, the pollster added.
“It has been 20 percent and above in 6 out of 7 surveys since September 2013,” it added.
“The people’s preference between democracy and authoritarianism is a different issue from the degree of satisfaction with how democracy works and is probed by a separate question,” SWS noted.
The question used to gauge public satisfaction in the way democracy works here came from the Eurobarometer surveys, the standard used in Latin American and Asian barometer projects, the SWS said.