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The Party is Dead! Long Live the Party! Reforming the Party System in the Philippines

Strong and stable political parties and credible elections are the hallmarks of any democratic system. The Philippines represents a case where parties are both relevant and irrelevant to the political system. While they flourish particularly during elections, they are not seen to be integral to the effective functioning of democracy in the country with its predominantly patronage- and personality-based electoral system. Parties in the Philippines perform a largely superficial (nonprogrammatic) and mechanical (electoral) function. This situation is not lost to congressional representatives—dozens of proposals have been, and continue to be, made in Congress to reform the party system. Regrettably, none have been adopted into law. This paper looks into why these congressional reform initiatives have not prospered. Addressing the root cause is both necessary and vital for the country to move in the direction of stable and sustained democratic consolidation.


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