A Commentary on the Philippine Party List System

29 10 2012

I was reading through an article regarding the Comelec tearing through the legitimate party-lists from those that aren’t. What I found quite interesting was a comment by a reader (Platypus09):

There should only be 2- to 3-political party structure in our country like the US’ Democratic Party, Republican Party, and the Green Party.

It has to be mandated by Congress as a political reform law or by way of a Constitutional
Amendment to streamline and get rid of multiple-political party structure during elections, which sounds ridiculous and out of control.

More parties means chaos, people will be divided, more-than-half-of-the-majority mandate will not be reached if there are more than two candidates running for national government
positions from multiple political parties, Comelec will need more manpower and thus VERY COSTLY.

If there are only two main political parties as electoral structure, these candidates will run against each other first depending on their party affiliations in the geographical or electoral divisions they belong and then the party winners will run against each other. Thus, there will be only two to three candidates per position per electoral division.

Interested parties will sign up in these main political parties and run for specific office or position, then party elections will be held and the winners will be proclaimed. Each party winners for that position will run against each other to be voted by the populace.

This system works PEACEFULLY in the US with 200 million plus population preventing electoral chaos and confusion during elections, it should also work here in our country.

And thus, the majority mandate, which is one-half of the voters plus one or more than 50% of the total voters, will be reached.

In as much as I understand where the reader is coming from, I beg to differ on the fact that this is the solution we need. A 2 – 3 party system is just as problematic as a multi party system. Both have its pros and cons.

I have very much enjoyed playing devil’s advocate on most issues, and enjoy debating on either side on some of the current controversial issues. Though, I rarely speak out about what I actually think about the issues. For this reader’s comment, here are my points to refute the readers facts and claims:

1. A 2 – 3 party system does not always mean that a member of one party will stick with their party for the rest of their career. The PH has been there with the LP and NP before Martial Law, and we have seen politicians switch parties most of the time. Just because it is a 2 party system, it does not disallow turncoat politicians from jumping ships if they have been that way.

2. US style party system is actually multi party. However, the 2 dominant parties have always been the Democrats and Republicans. In their Congress, however, there are coalitions with minor parties (such as the Tea and Green) in occasions where neither parties can hold a majority. In the PH, we simply term in differently. We call it the Majority and the Opposition. This is a coalition of individuals or parties formed during the election of the respective leaders of both houses of Congress.

3. A multi-party system does not necessarily “not work”. In some countries, particularly those with parliamentary forms of government like Japan, Germany and other EU countries, have multi party systems.

4. A 2 – 3 party system can restricts actual representation by limiting the chance of a normal and decent person from getting elected.

5. Lastly, the US party system is built from a bottom-up approach wherein an individual rises through the ranks to become an elected official or has a huge community involvement that he becomes a viable official. It can also be due to name recall like the Kennedys, the Terminator, etc. In the PH, higher ranked officials hand pick those who run under their “ticket” – a top-bottom approach. Observing how a certain PH political party works alone shows how much ass-kissing and utang-na-loob is being used just to be able to rise through the ranks.

This is a substantial difference in both country’s politics.

In the end, it is not about the party system works but rather how the regulatory agency manages the process. It is not about the party system but how we as the citizens choose who best represent us, who we bestow our trust to govern. It is not about the party system but how we educate our fellow citizens about the issues, and their options and opinions on those issues.

The party system is just a vehicle for our democracy but it does not define what it is. It is but an organized representation of our options. What is more important is that we choose wisely among our options and we educate those who are less learned of their options (in an unbiased manner) for them to choose who they think best represent them.

A democracy is a rule of the majority. If we all vote for who we best think represent our causes then, maybe, the best options get to run our government.

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2 responses

6 03 2013
Albert

I agree with your observations. The number of parties doesn’t determine the quality of government. It’s actually the quality of electors and elected officials that has the most impact. Sadly, regardless of the system, Filipino voters still vote with their gut. When we become more mature and able to think long-term, then we’ll have the Philippines we’ve all been longing for.

Anyway, although I admire the principles behind the Party-List system (I think it is correct that it is part of our constitution), the system developed by Comelec can be gamed. The implementation has to be updated, but this system has to stay.

6 03 2013
mikeljyms

I just reread my article and I think it justifies once again why I named the blog Unstructured, raw and partially edited. Quite a number of grammatical errors and typos. :p

Anyway, I agree on your views regarding the party list system, and I do hope that they continue to clean up the list. The party-list groups should truly represent the marginalized sectors as defined by the law. I believe Commissioner Brillantes is doing a decent job in cleaning up the COMELEC after the disasters created prior to his appointment.

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