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Aug 28

Platforms

Coalition Platform 1935

I’ve been meaning to write about this since July. Aside from the interesting experiments people are undertaking to analyze and understand the public opinion data coming in on the various candidates (see Journal of the Jester-in-Exile and Far From Neutral Notions), there’s an ongoing effort to get people to think deeper about the process of voting. And that includes going beyond liking or disliking individual candidates and asking what, if anything, they adhere to in terms of a cohesive vision for governance and what they actually hope to accomplish during their time in office.

Since 1935, when we had our first national presidential campaign, platforms have been part of the political landscape, an essential foundation document not just for campaigning for votes, but for cobbling together coalitions. Emilio Aguinaldo, in announcing his candidacy, apparently unveiled a 44-point platform.The document above, for example, was the 14-point Coalition Platform for the Nacionalista Democratico and Nacionalista Democrata Pro-Independencia parties approved on June 16, 1935, the realigned factions of the Nacionalista Party that split over the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act and the Democrata Party that dissolved over the same question. You can survey the State of the Nation Addresses for 1936, 1937, and 1938 to see how the platform was carried out, or not, particularly in terms of the question of agrarian reform. (a glimpse into how the reunified Nacionalistas put together their campaign platform for the next presidential campaign, in 1941, can be be seen in a Free Press article from July, 1939).

A description of the NP Convention in 1953 in which former Liberal Ramon Magsaysay became the Nacionalista standard bearer, shows how a platform is the formal basis for affiliation in any electoral contest where a tug of war takes place not just for the votes of the electorate but the affiliation of candidates and other leaders. In 1985, the Convenor Group and National Unification Council had to hammer out a platform as a basis for unity and participation in case Ferdinand Marcos called for a snap election. Most recently, the President herself put forward a 10-point Agenda for her administration.

There have been two entries of note that go to the heart of making a vote not just for the President and Vice-President or the Senate, but for an entire ticket, an informed one. Ideally, one shouldn’t just vote for particular positions in isolation, but as much as possible give leaders a chance to have a basis for governing, which requires electing as many like-minded people as possible so they can support each other once a new administration’s inaugurated.

See Platform Plez and Kepner-Tregoe and the 2010 Presidential Elections to see how citizens can go about evaluating candidates, not just on the individual merits of particular candidates, but according to the affiliations they’ve chosen. In an ideal democracy, the basis of that affiliation should be a party platform. Everyone in the party is obliged to uphold a particular set of party principles, and beyond that, to adhere to a set of objectives the party hopes to accomplish within the forthcoming term.

However, in our imperfect world, the standing of political parties is low and only a minority, a little over a quarter of the population, takes parties or party affiliation seriously. The survey, which dates back to 2007, revealed that three parties stood out in terms of platform, etc.: Lakas-CMD, the Liberal Party, and Bayan Muna. Of these three, the survey findings can be explained on the basis, first, of ubiquity in terms of Lakas-CMD as the dominant administration party; in the second instance, because the LP had, until it was divided over the question of continued collaboration with the President, gone through the process of requiring seminars for aspiring members and trying to modernize the party’s processes; and in terms of Bayan Muna, because of the identity of the party as a front organization for a movement with a specific ideology.

In all three cases, and in the case of all parties, there will be those who are leaders and members of the party who are unconcerned with what the party platform says; but even if this is the case, the existence of the party platform represents a set of principles and programs to which it is reasonable to expect the leader or party member to adhere. It is a starting point, at the very least, for evaluating any candidacy: a candidate proven to be ignorant of, or dismissive, of the party platform ought to be taken less seriously than one who has bothered to at least parrot the party line. If the candidate can be shown to have worked towards accomplishing the party’s objectives, then the candidate can be said to have passed a major hurdle in terms of having a respectable candidacy.

At the very least: if certain candidates have an existing political affiliation, then they can be assumed -and expected- to adhere to the platform of the party they belong to; if they move to a party, they can be assumed to have signed on to the platform of the party they’ve joined. More importantly, the first basis for evaluating these candidates is to ask what their party affiliation, formally at least, stands for, and then, asking whether the candidate’s affiliation is nominal or more deeply-rooted, and that can be by means of inquiries in forums, etc. There will be instances where candidates, besides their party affiliations, also have their own, personal platforms (the Magsaysay Credo for example, or that of Noynoy Aquino).

An individual candidate who belongs to party is bound by the party platform; he can add to it, but not subtract from it, or deviate it from it to an extent tha would make his affiliation meaningless. One thing is sure: a candidate should be held accountable to a party platform; from the start, identification with a party means that candidate automatically adheres to the party platform.

For this reason, it’s useful to see what platforms are available on line, for comparison, and in terms of seeing what the presently-affiliated candidates already officially subscribe to. With the caveat that party platforms are changeable documents, ideally revised during the party convention preparatory to waging a new campaign; and that party platforms are, ideally, consensus documents, reflective of the various factions and interests within a party seeking wider public support at the polls.

Lakas Kampi CMD, which has as its potential standard bearers Vice President de Castro, Defense Secretary Teodoro, MMDA Chairman Fernando, and Senator Gordon, among others, has a Lakas Kampi CMD Party Constitution online, with a Declaration of Principles and Polices (Article II), and a General Platform of Government (Article III).

The Nationlist People’s Coalition, which as as its potential standard bearers Senators Escudero and Legarda, has a Nationalist People’s Coalition Party Manifesto online, in Mission-Vision form, with further breakdowns for Human Capital Development; Good Governance; Enterprise Development; Energy and Infrastructure Development; Fiscal Discipline and Security.

The Liberal Party (one assumes all factions subscribe to the same platform) which has as its possible standard bearers Manuel Roxas II or Benigno Aquino III, puts forward what it calls The Liberal Vision, which includes The New Agenda which proposes Policies for the New Century subdivided into three categories: an Economic Program, a Political Program, and a Social Program.

The most meager information is provided by the Nacionalista Party, which is heavy on reciting its past history but terse when it comes to specifying what, exactly, the party stands for. See Nacionalista Part FAQ. In his own wesite, Manuel Villar, Jr. is also rather unforthcoming about the specifics of his candidacy and relating the specifics with the party he heads.

As for the other major parties, I haven’t found their official websites with their party platforms.

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  1. ramrod

    Yeah, Cory did alright, for a mere housewife. She restored the electoral system that favored oligarchs and gave way to the election of minority presidents. She brought back the independent SC that would later legitimize the illegal take-over by Gloria. And made the smooth transition to Ramos. As though she had a choice!
    ————————————————————

    You’ve just pointed out the weaknesses of democracy, but thats not the whole picture altogether. Its a two edged sword that can be wielded for good or bad depending on who wields it, but at least it secures the freedom of speech and the right to dissent…the opposite would be dictatorship…where cronies could grab businesses from others and hold on to them for life, no SC, no electoral system…
    Compared to the US, our democracy is an infant, we’re still learning the ropes, still struggling to find what works for us. I don’t believe copying from the US or Australia lock stock and barrel will even work, we have to find out on our own, and all these falling, rising, teetering, are just part of the glorious process of evolution…as long as we believe and persevere, and hold on to our independence.

  2. SoP

    “Taxj on Mon, 31st Aug 2009 2:40 am
    SoP, skip the hassle of creating more parties. The man with the best platform, character and qualifications could end up as a nuisance candidate.”

    In mature democracies, there’s definitely a place for your “nuisance” parties and independents who capture one or two seats here and there. There were a few times when deadlocks in bills are decided by such super small minorities. Even in our country, the 10 or so seats captured by Bayan Muna and other lefties are proving useful in a coalition dominated congress if nothing more than to expose the stench of the presidency.

    I don’t see why it would be bad to have many parties as well. Europeans do it all the time, getting parliamentary seats for such “nuisance” advocacies as digital rights reform (Pirate Party) and bring down the age of consent to 12 (charity freedom and diversity party).

    Watch out for my own political party. We’re going legalize prostitution, shabu, and marijuana. We’ll advocate for the abolition of indecency laws. You could go naked on the beach taxj and police can do squat about it. We’ll push for the legalization of abortion in the first trimester. There’ll be less orphans in the streets decades from now thanks to our abortion stance. We’ll legalize the market for organ donation. When you’re liver gives up on you taxj from too much drinking and drug use, you’ll be able to find a quick replacement thanks to our party.

    Join us in our quest for increased personal freedoms.

  3. taxj

    In mature democracies… SoP, this is the Philippines. When you are declared a nuisance candidate by COMELEC, your candidacy is kaput. You won’t get a single vote. As a party list you could get a seat or two. Not enough to push through any kind of stench.

  4. SoP

    You might be right in the case of presidential candidates. But I found that COMELEC has been pretty lenient in labeling nuisance candidates. After all, they allowed the like of Imelda and Morato to run. Unless you’re really, really nutty, you can still run for president.

    I disagree with you on party lists. I think they’re a wonderful innovation, fiscally wasteful they may be, they’re still a good exercise in representative democracy. Teddy Casino getting some media exposure during dinnergate is an example of how useful minority seats can be.

  5. taxj

    COMELEC allowed the likes of Morato and Imelda. Who’s next? SoP? Not being really, really nutty is being nutty just the same. Just what our country needs!

    As we dozed off, Palparan et. al., drowned out Teddy Casino et. al. Party lists revived the executioner with a vengeance. Such rotten tomatoes are seen more at presidential trips than at sessions. Party list WAS a wonderful innovation.

  6. ramrod

    We’re going legalize prostitution, shabu, and marijuana. We’ll advocate for the abolition of indecency laws. You could go naked on the beach taxj and police can do squat about it.
    ——————————————–

    Hey I like this one! But what are we going to do with our wives? They’ll just ruin everything by giving us curfews, checking our cell phones, credit card bills, smelling our shirts, interrogating us (and its difficult to defend yourself when you’re up to your neck in beer)!
    As William Wallace said “FREEDOM!!!”

  7. taxj

    No to cha-cha. As a platform, this is suicidal. Everybody seems to agree on a whipping boy: the Constitution. A ConCon is being hatched. It will get the nod, most likely.

    Obviously, we never learn from history, despite mlq3. Hard pressed by time and financial constraints Cory’s ConCom botched it up. To think that she has the luxury of choosing the best minds in the land! Presumably, she did. But the output was a clunker. The same may be said of the Marcos’ charter.

    What guarantee then do we have that a 2010 ConCon wouldn’t produce another lemon? Too many cooks! With the spectre of federalism it could be worse than we can ever imagine.

    We can either make the most of what we have or do it via a ConAss by the 2010 Congress. Why not?

  8. SoP

    “ramrod on Wed, 2nd Sep 2009 9:54 pm
    Hey I like this one! But what are we going to do with our wives? They’ll just ruin everything”

    For ramrod, we’ll legalize divorce.

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