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In her seven years as Philippine president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has found political legitimacy elusive. She has survived numerous travails by very effectively wielding the substantial powers of her office, but exhibits no qualms about further undermining the country's already weak political institutions. Post-Marcos Philippine democracy can boast many strengths, including a vibrant civil society, but it has been battered in recent years by a major electoral scandal, extrajudicial killings, attacks on the press, a recurrence of military adventurism, and on-going patterns of corruption and violence. The Arroyo imbroglio strains the country's longstanding but patronage-infested democratic structures, thus highlighting the necessity of well-considered political reform. A central goal should be the fostering of stronger and more programmatic political parties.