Stories of political parties | Philstar.com – Philstar.com
In stable and working democracies, the common observation is that there are stable and relatively long-lasting political parties with clearly defined goals. The public is also able to discern the major differences in the ideas that bind a political party.
Japan is an example of a democracy that has been able to survive since the end of the Second World War or a period of approximately 75 years. In India, its ruling party is fairly new, but the Congress Party has been in existence since the time of Gandhi and Nehru. In the United States, the Democratic and Republican parties have been contesting for political power since 1860.
Normally, in a democracy one can tell which political party one is a member of, or at least has closer ties with, after discussing issues with them.
In the Philippines, it is not political parties that stand out and separate us. It is candidates. I sometimes doubt whether the candidate themselves know the background and history of the political party they have joined.
The PDP-LABAN party, which is now divided into two wings – Pimentel and Cusi – was a union of two political parties. The Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino or PDP was founded by a group of left of center ideologues and politicians from Mindanao. They came from two places – Cagayan de Oro and Davao City. They were influenced by a new ideology then gaining ground worldwide called Social Democracy or Socdem. However, for this group it was Christian Democracy that was the ideology.
One of the pillars of PDP’s ideology was Democratic Socialism. This is a left-wing philosophy that supports political democracy within a socially owned economy with a particular emphasis on economic democracy, workplace democracy and workers’ self management.
In some readings, democratic socialists even argue that capitalism is inherently incompatible with the values of freedom, equality and solidarity and that these ideals can only be achieved through the realization of a socialist society.
The difference between democratic socialists and communists is that communism believes in an authoritarian form of government while democratic socialists believe in democracy. In the United States, the leading democratic socialist is Congresswoman A. O. Cortez of Bronx, New York City.
I have serious doubts whether those Filipino politicians who have joined PDP-LABAN are aware of this. The party was founded to be a left of center party. That is why members take their oaths with their left hand raised and not with the right hand as is common with most organizations.
Lakas ng Bayan or LABAN was founded in 1978 by a group headed by Ninoy Aquino. Its purpose was to field a group of candidates, led by Ninoy, to run against a group of candidates led by Imelda Marcos for the Batasan. Through massive cheating and intimidation the Imelda-led group, running under the KBL party, won all 18 seats. However, it was the first time we heard of noise barrages as a way of political protests.
Sometime in the early eighties – 1982 I think – the two groups merged to become PDP-LABAN. This group became the leading political movement against martial law and for the restoration of democracy.
I wonder how many of the present members and candidates of this party are even slightly aware about the real purpose and ideology of this party.
Perhaps this is the reason political parties do not last. It is not ideologies that bind its members together but simply the lust for power of candidates.
The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan has been in political control of Japan for most of the post-war years. Right now, there is a very intense struggle among four contenders to be the next prime minister. However, once the issue is decided, then everybody supports a single candidate.
The Liberal Party remains an active party. Its history began when Roxas split from Osmeña and ran for president in the first post World War II presidential election. This was also the first election of independent Philippines. It has had a glorious part in our history. However, during the anti-Marcos struggle, it had a low profile. Its first venture in the post martial law era was in 1992 when it had an alliance with PDP-LABAN and ran a Salonga-Pimentel tandem. The ticket lost. The Liberal Party tried again in 1998, but it was in 2010 with Noynoy Aquino as its presidential candidate that the party finally succeeded.
The internal weaknesses of the party were revealed when most of its members resigned after its candidate – Mar Roxas – lost in 2016.
There were attempts by people to instill an ideology in the party. I remember Mario Taguiwalo used to talk about this often. Unfortunately he passed away prematurely .
Aksyon Demokratiko was founded primarily to be the organization for Raul Roco for his presidential runs in 1998 and 2004. He was a maverick politician and I always thought his political heir would be his province mate Jesse Robredo. If Raul Roco has any legitimate heir today, it would have to be Leni Robredo.
PROMDI has an interesting story. This used to actually mean “from the province.” It used to describe someone from the province who had little education, spoke with a certain accent and had no sense of fashion. Lito Osmeña, then governor of Cebu, formed the party when he ran for president and made PROMDI a badge of honor.
Until the Philippines establishes a strong political party system and not rely totally on personalities, this country will never have a stable democracy.
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