Midterm exodus: When political butterflies switch party alliances

Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Philippines

Organisation: Rappler

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 5 Nov 2019

Credit: Michael Bueza

Project description:

The project explored the trend of “political turncoatism” or switching between political parties by Filipino politicians across 4 elections or since 2010. This politicians’ maneuvers have been greatly observed in past elections, and this story is an attempt to visualize their movements.

Impact reached:

It showed in full view the patterns in party-switching in Philippine politics. During midterms, many of these politicians switch to the party of the incumbent President, to curry favor with the administration. However, they mostly remain in their current parties during presidential elections.​

Many camps have called for reforms in electoral politics to avoid such behavior. The commission that President Duterte formed to recommend revisions to the 1987 Constitution also came up with measures to prevent party-switching in its proposed federal constitution.

Techniques/technologies used:

The political data used were retrieved from their certificates of candidacy filed with the Commission on Elections. The data were collected in Microsoft Excel, and was then plugged in to Flourish to create Sankey diagrams, to illustrate the movements from one party to another between two elections.

What was the hardest part of this project?

We’ve already processed the data for the 2010, 2013, and 2016 elections, so the hard part is processing the data for the 2019 elections, then summarizing everything to create the Sankey diagrams. This tracking and visualization of politicians’ party affiliation across the years has arguably never been done yet before.​

Sadly, at the time of the story’s publication, the authors does not have the capability yet to display movements across parties by individual politicians. Only the collective movements from one party to another were displayed.

What can others learn from this project?

By visualizing the politicians’ party-switching behavior, voters could be better informed about candidates’ real intentions during elections. By giving this information to voters, they could hopefully be empowered to vote wisely in future polls.

Project links: