Wednesday, June 15, 2016

An opportunity for parties

The recent election might just have provided an opportunity for political parties to firm up and take real shape.  What could they do? They could each form shadow cabinets.

The shadow cabinet, similar to the ones in the United Kingdom, would be composed of senior leaders of the non-ruling parties to mirror the cabinet of the incoming government.  Each member of the shadow cabinet would lead on a specific policy area for the party and to question and challenge their counterpart in the cabinet. In this way the official opposition seeks to present itself as an alternative government-in-waiting. [] 

Here are some reasons to do this now, never mind that elective tenures are currently fixed:

1.  Apparently the incoming government needs a clear vision and policies.  They appear to be reputation-centered; and the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) would be saddled with not governing, but with keeping numerous balls up in the air, each of which would be a piece of interest of the "members" of the supermajority.

2.  There are critical yet controversial solutions proposed to address various issues. Among them: the restoration of death penalty; emergency powers for the president to attempt to solve the traffic crisis in the metro areas and for other issues; turning the police into likely bounty hunters through kill rewards; arming civilians to help fight "drugsters"; constitutional change; and of course, claims on the West Philippine Sea.

3.  It appears that the conditions for constitutional change could be made more favorable by the incoming administration.  Those conditions would be unlike 1986 when the only viable option was for the then-president Cory Aquino to appoint members of the constitutional convention. This planned one would be different.  Interests and all-boys clubs will likely rule. They will get themselves elected to shape the constitution to their tastes.

The opposition/s, in a dynamic democracy like ours, need/s to chime-in and take away the spotlight from the just-one perspective.  They should offer the already-engaged public with sound alternative solutions and arguments in order to explore or exhausts the issues better (and in the process differentiate themselves from the others).  We all could go to the polls sooner that we expect.

For 2016 a total of 169 parties registered with the Commission on Elections, 46 of which are national.  Not all of them would be capable of putting up a shadow cabinet. But with some consolidation, if necessary, at least the big names, national and regional, could. Easily.

Now more than ever, there could be room for party institutes to be put up to research and take positions on issues and build stronger support bases.  Women party leaders along with their party, or an all-women shadow cabinet composed of CSO members, could inform on the impact of the controversial solutions especially on women and children.  The parties could at the same time look into attracting talent and training young cadres to adapt and spread party positions and principles.

I am not a party person myself but I would like for parties to be fully functioning.  I am an elections person, and I would like to see competitive elections; and if parties offer good and competent candidates, voters will always "win", whichever way they vote. What do you think?

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