Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Politics of Election

Filipinos take election as an established concept -- as a right or as a duty.

This concept has been associated as a function of fraud, illegitimacy, greediness for power, prestige, source of illicit wealth, self-interest, control and other negative connotations.

Electorate system affecting political structures and outcomes (impact on stability, representation and accountability) Election plays a potent role to sustain people’s democratic will, but today we are not assured if it reflects political will. Through elections, Filipinos practice their prime power to position candidates, who they think can best serve their interests and represent the constituency. No doubt, it is very important to aim for a clean and reliable election as this shall dictate the next venture of the public served. Legitimacy and accountability are imperative to each other. As political leaders address the issues or grievances of the people within their jurisdiction, political structures experience two fates – to be either pro-poor or alienating/exploitative. When popular support cannot be observed from people’s end, apparently the positioned leaders are not the real products of people’s judgment. After all in a democratic state like us, power resides from the people.

Elections have direct impacts to the stability of the government. The officials mandated by people in virtue of election are accountable for the country’s development. Election favors a call to action: to situate potential leaders for a new administration; to disregard the rulers guilty of power abuse (tyrannical) and as public critics them not capable of retaining the post anymore. Without elections frauds, one can visualize the urgency of election if it can serve its real purpose towards Philippine democracy preservation. But in the Philippines, it is definitely not the case.
Election sustains the sovereign will of the people over their government. The public policies/laws that their chosen leaders advocate should address/represent their needs without having self vested interests. Elections allow measuring up accountability of the leaders to the people -- promoting the responsible use of power bestowed to them for the benefit of the public, for popular societal ends. The electorate system implies people’s exercise of sovereignty by articulating their signal to the government, which is now formally endorsed to act in virtue of public’s consent.

Electorate system and the political culture. Filipinos tend to discover themselves left with nothing but a bunch of promises nearly to be broken again. A revolt for re-establishing another administration (more than once we are known), an election viewed to have frauds, an electorate system that has no integrity, credibility and transparency and of course, candidates who highlight the frauds itself. These things are viewed to be the natural state of electorate system, in which definitely should not be the case. Of course, holding an election is not enough to change the political culture of a society overnight. But elections take part to the development of the political culture, as it is the starting point for the Filipinos to attain desired development – with more respect for rights and reformed justice. The electoral system is undeniably a crucial element towards nation-building and to the maintenance of genuine democracy.

As I view it, we are still experiencing the fang of the past authoritarian regime. A common Filipino sees no remarkable boundaries that will clearly demarcate the end of the past leadership to that of the present (Arroyo). The only difference aside from gender is that there has been no direct execution of martial rule; all are the same if not more abusive.

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