9 May 2010

Election time in Philippines

8:29 am on 9 May 2010

Voters in the Philippines go to the polls on 10 May to select a new president and legislature. More than 50 million people are registered to vote.

As well as a new president and vice president, they will choose half the 24 members of the Senate, members of the House of Representatives and all local government leaders.

More than 85,000 candidates are contesting about 17,000 positions.

Front-runner for president is Noynoy Aquino, the son of Benigno "Ninoy" and Corazon "Cory" Aquino.

His father was shot and killed on his return to the Philippines from political exile in 1983.

Cory Aquino became president after a "people power" revolution in 1986 against Ferdinand Marcos.

Noynoy, 50, has served as a legislator for the past 12 years. His mother Cory died last year.

The other main candidate is Senator Manny Villar, 60, one of the richest men in the Philippines. However, his polling figures have slipped in recent weeks.

Another presidential hopeful is Joseph Estrada, 73: the former film star has been president before, but was ousted in a popular revolt after two years in power.

Imelda Marcos, 80, the widow of former President Marcos, is running for a post in congress in the north of the country.

The BBC reports many election wins in the past have been soured by accusations of cheating, including the last poll in 2004, which was narrowly won by current President, Gloria Arroyo.

Claims of vote-rigging and corruption have dogged Mrs Arroyo throughout her presidency.

Factional warfare

The democratic process is overshadowed by strong factional alliances.

Conflict between clans led to a massacre at the end of last year. In November, the bodies of 57 people were found in a shallow grave in the southern province of Maguindanao.

CNN reports they had been on their way to register a local election candidate.

Their killers are thought to have been part of a group linked to a rival candidate from one of the most influential family clans in the area, the Ampatuans.