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Snap elections
Daily History Marcos Administration

Marcos announces snap elections: Nov. 3, 1985

On this day in 1985, during an appearance in the American political affairs talk show This Week with David Brinkley, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos announced the holding of a snap elections.

During the interview, American journalist George Will, one of the shows panelists, asked Marcos if he would be willing to hold elections to see if he still has the mandate of the people. In response, Marcos announced the holding of snap elections within 60 days.

Economic crisis as backdrop

At the time of Marcos’ appearance in the program, his administration was beset by a deepening political and economic crisis. In the 1970s during the height of Martial Law, the Marcos regime took out enormous amounts of debt from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to fund his grandiose infrastructure projects and other programs.

By 1982, Philippine debt has accumulated to $24.4 billion but this debt hasn’t materialized much due to crony capitalism and corruption within the Marcos administration. To make matters worse, the United States cut interest rates amid an ongoing economic recession, making it difficult for countries like the Philippines to pay its debts.

Compounding to the problem was the assassination in 1983 of opposition leader and former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. on August 21 at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport. Largely blamed on the Marcos regime, the assassination worsened the political turmoil in the country and made foreign investors lose confidence in country’s business climate, resulting in capital flight.

At the time of the interview, the Philippine economy was already in a recession, with the Gross Domestic Product registered at -7 percent in 1984 and 1985 from 1.8 percent in 1983, based on World Bank data.

Marcos believed that the elections would affirm American support for his government and silence protests as well as his critics. A month later, the Batasang Pambansa passed a law setting February 7, 1986 as the date of the snap elections. He faced Corazon Aquino, widow of Ninoy Aquino, as his main rival in the elections.


Radio TV Reports Inc. “Transcript of Interview with President Marcos.” Central Intelligence Agency Electronic Reading Room. Declassified on Feb. 24, 2012

De Dios, Emmanuel. An Analysis of the Philippine Economic Crisis : A Workshop Report, June 1984. Quezon City, Philippines: University of the Philippines Press

GDP growth (annual %) – Philippines. The World Bank

Galang, Ping. “The economic decline that led to Marcos’ fall.GMA News Online. February 21, 2011

Guido, Edson Joseph; de los Reyes, “The best of times? Data debunk Marcos’s economic ‘golden years‘”. ABS-CBN News. September 21, 2017

Martial Law and its Aftermath“. Country Studies: Philippines. US Library of Congress.

Trivia Question

Prior to President Marcos, which American senator was also interviewed in the program about his meeting with President Marcos?

Yesterday’s answer: John Lewin Smith, Henry Brooke, Claud Russell and Samuel Johnson

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