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On Philippine Elections

and Political Parties

What are the historical
underpinnings of elections in the
How did the Philippine party
system develop and perform?
What are some of the pressing
issues surrounding the Philippine
electoral and party systems?
The Electoral System
Periodic election of officials by
single-ballot plurality vote
Executive and senators elected at
Existence of legislative districts
and local government units
Electorate: duly registered citizens
18 years of age and above
Pre-Colonial Philippines
No elections for ruling authorities
Government was based more on
– Kinship
– Customs/Traditions
– Favors
– Unwritten laws
Colonial Government
In colonizing the Philippines,
Spain effectively formalized and
modernized government rule
To be able to administer the
colony effectively, the colonial
government created pockets of
local authority across the country
American Colonial Rule
American colonial rule set the
foundation for elections in the
Government institutions and the
electoral system were patterned
after the American system
Filipinos could run for public office
in a limited capacity
Introduced a more
accommodating electoral system
Over time, Philippine elections
were dominated by a single-party
Creation of the COMELEC to
oversee the conduct of elections
1973 Constitution
Consolidation of power under
Martial Rule
Less electoral safeguards
– Weakening of the powers of the
– Lack of checks and balances within
the electoral system
The Filipino Party System
American Colonial Rule
– Initial dominance of the Federal Party
Party advocating Philippine statehood
within the United States
– Rise and subsequent preponderance
of the Nacionalista Party
Coalition of different groups advocating
Philippine independence
The Filipino Party System
Post-War Period
– Split
of the Liberal Party from the
Nacionalista Party
Encouraged by the Americans to
avoid single-party hegemony
Over time, the distinction between the
two became blurred
Growing importance of personalities
The Filipino Party System
Martial Law
– Clampdown on political institutions
– Rise of the Kilusang Bagong
Lipunan (KBL) as the dominant
political party
– Eventual emergence of regional
political parties
The Filipino Party System
Post-EDSA (1986)
– Development of a multi-party
Effective checks and balances are
needed over the electoral system
Elections are used to lend
legitimacy to a regime
There are very few distinguishing
characteristics between political
parties in the Philippines
More Lessons
Parties have generally been
ineffective as political institutions
that lend predictability to politics in
the Philippines
Personalities overpower parties
as political entities
Some Contemporary Issues
Absentee Voting
Election Fraud
Political Dynasties
Nuisance Candidates