Revisiting the Two-Party System

Manila Bulletin, November 21, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Revisiting the Two-Party System


Byline: Manny Villar

The Philippines has a unique political landscape. It has a presidential form of government with a multi-party system.

A multi-party political configuration is a standard feature in democratic parliaments of countries like Britain, France, Germany, and Italy. A party that fails to get a majority of the seats in the parliament forms an alliance with one or more parties so that it will have the numerical strength to govern.

In the case of the presidential system, like in the United States and here in the Philippines before 1972, the executive and the legislative functions are entrusted in separate but co-equal and interdependent branches of government. It is an institutional arrangement whereby the political party not in power assumes the role of opposition, delineates expectations and accountabilities.

A two-party system is premised on political platforms and not on personalities. Then, the two major political parties differed in their approaches in promoting the nation's good. And the people knew what each stood for.

This distinction between the Nacionalista Party and the Liberal Party was very clear to the electorate during the national debate on the crucial issue of Parity Rights Amendment up to the time of the plebiscite to approve or reject the proposed change in the Philippine Constitution.

On the one hand, the Nacionalista Party, led by its stalwarts like Jose P. Laurel, Claro M. Recto and Eulogio Rodriguez, argued forcefully against the stand of the Liberal Party which was to amend the Charter to allow Americans to enjoy the same economic rights meant only for Filipinos.

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