2008 is also a transition year for the anti-GMA opposition. Like the ruling administration coalition, they confront the likelihood of a 2010 presidential elections that currently favors the opposition. However, this is not a static situation given the varied permutations possible–including the possibility of a GMA continued stay in power or a candidate supported by a unified GMA coalition amid fragmented opposition candidacies.
Advantage for the opposition rests on the gross unpopularity of the president. If she remains in power by 2010 and is perceived to be favoring a candidate, the people will probably vote against this candidate. There is also the fact that the serious presidentiables–with the resources, machinery, and popular image–are with the opposition or, at least, identified with it.
However, on its side, the opposition is largely fragmented, with historical issues among themselves that proved intractable even when confronted with a common political adversary. At the moment, everybody here calls for opposition unity–as long as it unites behind the caller’s presidential bet.
The momentary issue for the opposition (or for presidential hopefuls within the ruling coalition) is the possibility of a GMA endrun for a continued stay in power through a constitutional change. This possibility, though more remote than before, has to be laid to rest before the real battle for 2010 commences. 2008 therefore will lay the ground (or set the terms) for 2010.
In a situation where the president steps down or is passive in the 2010 presidential elections, the opposition–and the ruling coalition–will fragment and their component forces will go their own way to form new coalitions behind the presidentiables. The opposition as such will become irrelevant and the GMA factor will be a non-issue, except as another campaign issue against former administration candidates.
On the other hand, if the president continues on to 2010 or actively intervenes in the 2010 elections, then the main issue of the elections will be her administration’s legitimacy and record. The opposition, in this situation, needs to unite to ensure victory against the vast resources and machinery of the administration. Failure to do so will divide the protest vote and effectively jeopardize the chances of all opposition candidates.
The opposition (or the presidentiables from their ranks) will have its work cut out in 2008. A critical mass has to be formed behind one presidentiable capable of getting out the winning votes. The operative word here–crass though it may be to political reformers–is ADDITION.