CRACKS IN DEMOCRACY
The campaign season reveals the usual cracks in the country’s political system, experts told CNA.
Political analyst Edmund Tayao said political loyalties often shift during election season due to a weak multi-party political system.
When parties fail to delineate from each other based on policy stances, name recall defines the game, he said.
“The campaign is always just limited to personalities. So if there will be a possible agreement or an alliance that is on the table, whether with the administration or in the opposition, the only reason for agreement is to agree on spoils,” said Tayao.
“So if, for example, you are running for president and I’m your opponent, we can only agree to find an alliance if, for example, I will withdraw, but you will give me particular positions in government,” he told CNA.
Patronage and nepotism in government, analysts said, have long held the country back.
Direct engagement with voters is expected during campaigning. But a key strategy is also courting the support of local government officials who have a loyal following in their respective provinces, cities and municipalities by virtue of deep kinship ties.
Analyst Aries Arugay explained that this network of support from local governments forms part of a national candidate’s political strategy, adding that money, services and promises of future political favours are often exchanged during this process of persuasion.
Arugay said it is precisely the resource-intensive nature of campaigning that makes it problematic, as candidates are often beholden to major donors or financiers.
“If democracy is governed by money politics, then the electoral process is jeopardised. It only means that it is those who have the most financial resources (who) will have not only access, but (be) able to really have the edge in supposedly a politically equal process,” he said
A 2020 report by anti-corruption non-profit Transparency International revealed that, among 17 countries and territories in Asia, vote-buying was most rampant in the Philippines and Thailand.