According to the election violence forecaster at the University of Central Florida, 2020 saw more election-related violence than any year in the past four decades. Fifty-four percent of national elections that took place in 2020 had some form of violence.
The reasons countries are prone to election violence are simple. Obviously, a history of election violence indicates violence is “normalized” is the first clue. When voters are not given a choice to vote for opposition candidates is another factor. Some countries allow only a “Yes” or “No” vote for the incumbent without another option. The threat of military intervention in an election leads to violence.
One news source headline: “More violence, threats reported vs politicians in Cebu City.” The reality is, a less biased newspaper writes, “The Philippine National Police has so far recorded fewer incidents of election-related violence this year compared to the two previous elections. The PNP has recorded 53 cases of election-related incidents since the start of the election period on January 9.” That is good news despite the Commission on Elections (Comelec) having placed 104 municipalities and 14 cities under the “red category,” the highest alert level for possible election-related violence.
But the primary reason for both pre-election and post-election violence is the people not trusting that the vote counting represents the will of the people.
The following is from our editorial on May 6, 2016:
“The 2016 presidential election is finally winding down to a close. The campaign season has seen bitterness with inflammatory rhetoric that has, in some ways, stretched the fiber of Philippine society. That is not a good situation.
“Maybe, as some think, this is the most important political event and election in the history of the country. Perhaps, though, in the bigger picture, it will turn out to be just another turnover of power from one administration to another. Only time will tell.
“However, what is critically important is whether the Philippines, its government, its people, and its institutions have progressed beyond the evils of a false democracy.
“One person who embodies government evil—Joseph Stalin—said, “It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” This is where the greatest danger to the nation lies.
“While this quotation of Stalin’s shows the potential of evil in government, what it shows more is the potential failure of the people to protect their democratic rights.
“It is up to each individual voter to protect and preserve the process. A clean and fair election rests only in your hands. It is your personal obligation to make sure that the will of the people is heard. Do not only depend on the authorities to protect your vote.
“The Commission on Elections and media outlets have made great efforts to educate voters as to the process and procedures, as well as voters’ rights. Do not ignore this information, because you do so at your own risk.
“To those who are thinking about cheating the people of their vote, think again carefully. We believe that the people are ready for you, hopefully more prepared to do battle for their democracy than any time before. If the outcome of this election is tainted, we may see an uprising of popular discontent that will make past ‘People Power’ seem minor in comparison. You have been warned.
“Support the candidate whom you believe will be the best for your future and the future of the nation. But support even more strongly the right of the will of the people to be followed.”