Political Parties and Emergence of Leaders

Manila Bulletin, August 31, 2008 | Go to article overview

Political Parties and Emergence of Leaders


The convention was capped by Obama's rousing acceptance speech in Invesco Field, where a crowd of 84,000 people cheered him on as he stepped into history as the first African American to lead a major-party ticket.

Obama is the best example of how a strong and functioning political party system enables the selection of good leaders and the articulation of a vision.

Because they define and express the needs and wants of a people, political parties also have a strong effect on legislation and policy. The "change" that Obama articulated in policy specifics throughout his speech - his position on taxes, energy, education, health care, compensation and the federal budget - represent the Party's viewpoints and what the nation can expect if he wins the presidency.

Unfortunately, in the Philippines, we do not have this. Instead of running on ideology and a clear and definite platform, candidates resort to mudslinging and character assassination. The dominance of personalities over platform has allowed parties to contend in the political arena with vague policies or zero stand on pressing national issues.

This lack of a genuine party system has stunted our progress to political maturity and hindered our economic development as well. There is a direct link between a viable political party system and good governance, which then translates to national prosperity.

Without strong, stable and platform-based political parties, we cannot undertake meaningful reforms in our social, political and economic landscape.

We are 20 months away from the 2010 presidential elections, and there is an urgent need now to pass the Political Party Development and Campaign Finance Act, which will transform political parties into public institutions and provide state subsidy to political parties that will adopt an internal code of conduct and agree to public audit of their financial transactions.

Only by focusing more on programs and platform rather than personalities and popularity are we ever going to break this vicious cycle of bad politics and bad government.

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