Standard hues: How UP Diliman voted standard bearers in last 20 elections

Around half of the University Student Council (USC) elections in the past 20 years crowned chairpersons and vice chairpersons from the same party. But it hasn’t happened again in the last four terms.

A total of 10 out of 21 elections since 2000 resulted in the USC’s top two posts coming from the same camp. This feat has not been repeated in four years, the last time being in 2016, data collected by Tinig ng Plaridel show. 

For the first time since 2016, it will be a two-way match between Student Alliance for the Advancement of National and Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) and UP ALYANSA ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran ( UP ALYANSA) for the top posts this year after KAISA – Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan (KAISA UP)  did not field candidates.

Whether both Chairperson and the Vice Chairperson will come from the same party will depend on the electorate’s assessment of the candidates’ platforms during the ongoing campaign period.  

Why it matters

Standard bearers hold the figurative banner for their respective parties. Having the top posts belong to the same party would make it easier to enact that party’s plans, said Francis Dee, an assistant professor at the UP Department of Political Science.

“On the other hand, when they are from differing camps, you might expect more effort to arrive at [a] consensus among parties, though this would also be the case even if both are from the same party when there is no clear majority in the USC,” he added.

Data from previous TNP reports reveal that students mostly voted the two standard bearers from the same party from 2000 to 2016. Previously, the longest that the USC had standard bearers from different parties would be three terms, before the studentry once again voted in a straight-ticket fashion. 

STAND UP has found the most success in securing both positions in a single term, with seven victories under their belt in the last 21 years. Five of these happened from 2000 to 2010, with the election of Chairperson Raymond Palatino and Vice Chairperson Ninay Festin  starting the millennium.

UP ALYANSA has done this twice in the same timeframe. The blue party last clinched both seats in a single term with the election of Chairperson Arjay Mercado and Vice Chairperson JP Delas Nieves in 2014.

Absent in this year’s elections,  KAISA UP has accomplished this only once since the party’s establishment in 2005. The ballots turned in favor of Chairperson Alex Castro and Vice Chairperson Jules Guiang in 2013.

In 2012, with the election of vice chairperson Alex Castro, the yellow party broke STAND UP’s four-year streak in the seat. They won by almost 900 votes against UP ALYANSA’s Ace Ligsay.

Meanwhile, UP ALYANSA has provided standard bearers 11 times in the past 21 elections, with more than half occurring only in the past decade. The latest chairperson to come from the blue party was Kisha Beringuela, who formally began her stint in the spot in November 2018.

UP ALYANSA broke STAND UP’s four-year streak at chairpersonship when they led the USC with Chairperson Kristian Ablan in 2004. That year, Ablan headed the council with their running mate Vice Chairperson Christina Langit. 

Dee said that the fading trend of voting in standard bearers in a straight-ticket fashion also happens at the national level, as the electorate’s “disaffection” towards parties grows. Four out of five national elections after the first People Power Revolution saw a president and a vice-president from differing parties.

“Voters would rather decide for themselves who they think a good tandem would be rather than rely on the parties’ prescriptions. One could apply the same reasoning to the USC,” Dee said.

This year, the electorate will welcome the university’s first remote council elections, with the OSPA rolling out its plans for online and manual voting. The USC’s top two posts will be decided in the student elections in June. 

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