On Building a Political Party
(Leo is a former investment banker and management consultant. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics; B.Sc. and M.Sc.)
The Filipino is losing his democracy. It’s now in the hands of entrenched interests, family dynasties and money.
We thought we recovered it in May 2010 but we might want to look again. Under the covers, everything is the same.
To truly regain our cause we need a new way of doing things, a new paradigm, an enterprise to rival the current political players.We need a political party.
It is said viable political parties require mature electorates. Yet in India, South Africa and Mexico; the Congress, ANC and PRI parties respectively have held sway in these young democracies.
A party system thrives best under certain conditions. One, the electorate trusts political institutions rather than (or together with) personalities. Two, voters are educated. Three, there are disincentives to switch allegiances (e.g. a law against turn-coatism).
The Philippines is not there, not yet. Filipinos gravitate to personalities because parties are meaningless, they are simply vehicles of convenience. Manny Pacquiao, disappointingly, has switched affiliations four times in three years.
Yet we now have a unique opportunity to change all this. We have an honest leader heading a party, the LP, with an ideology. These could be enough to start.
Building a political party is like building a consumer brand. It must offer the electorate a predictable, quality product at good value, an experience people can trust. This means providing essential Government services well, consistently and at the best price (i.e. no corruption). With the President’s “Daan Matuwid” and his (reasonably) competent Cabinet we are almost there. We just need to bottle the ingredients into an institutional vehicle the people can believe in.
The President needs to brand the Liberal Party.
This is what it takes to build a viable political party: