Profile: Gloria Arroyo

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power in the Philippines after a popular revolt against her predecessor, Joseph Estrada.

When she took office in January 2001, it was hoped she could help stabilise the country's often volatile politics.

But three years in power have brought only mixed success - with her social and fiscal reforms paying few dividends.

She now faces a battle to retain the presidency in the forthcoming elections on 10 May.

She has far more political experience than her main rival, former film star Fernando Poe Junior, but compared to him she is often seen as lacking charisma - a vital requirement in a political landscape dominated by personalities rather than policies.

Despite this, she is predicted to win the poll, and with it another six years in office.

But even electoral victory will not solve the many problems facing her country - including poverty, a restive military and spiralling debt.


Born in 1947, Mrs Arroyo is the daughter of Diosdado Macapagal, who led the Philippines during the 1960s.

She was a classmate of former US President Bill Clinton at Georgetown University in Washington, and has a doctorate in economics from the University of the Philippines.

Mrs Arroyo's route into politics was a conventional one. She started her government career with the Department of Trade and Industry, and was elected into the Senate in 1992, and again in 1995.

Three years later she won a landslide victory to become vice-president to Mr Estrada.

Her style could not be more different from that of Mr Estrada, or his friend Fernando Poe Junior.

Her sometimes cold and businesslike manner has made it difficult for her to win the support of poorer voters.

She has tried to address this problem during the run-up to the presidential election by injecting some glamour into her campaign.

Two movie actors have been included in her senate slate, and her vice presidential candidate, Noli De Castro, got into politics because of his experience as a news anchor.

She has even named her coalition after the Taiwanese boy band K4.

Coup attempts

Just months after Mrs Arroyo took power in place of Mr Estrada, his supporters stormed the gates of the presidential palace demanding she resign.

Mrs Arroyo managed to ride the storm, but last year there was another attempt to unseat her, when more than 300 soldiers seized a Manila hotel and again demanded she step down.

The rebellion was put down peacefully, but both her defence secretary and military intelligence chief resigned in the wake of the incident.

Mrs Arroyo has herself acknowledged that she is unpopular in some sections of the community.

Originally she said she would not run again for president after her first three years, but - as many analysts predicted - she reversed the decision, hoping that another six years in office would give her more time to pursue her programme of reform.


Bron : BBC World

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