Weaknesses of political parties | The Manila Times

On February 9, 2022, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Vicente Sotto 3e confirmed at a press conference that they had decided to remove former Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista from their Senate slate in the upcoming May elections. 2022 after Bautista wrote to them asking to be nominated. a representative of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) in the so-called UniTeam of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and vice-presidential candidate Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Lacson is running against Marcos for the presidency and Sotto against Duterte-Carpio for the vice-presidency.

This situation between Lacson, Sotto and Bautista is not as simple as it seems.

Bautista is a member of the APN and Sotto is the party president. Lacson, however, is not even a member of the party. This is why Lacson explained that he was unable to comply with Bautista’s request. Nonetheless, Bautista gave Lacson the courtesy because he’s the standard bearer for the slate he was originally drafted into.

Wait, there’s more.

In a report dated February 10, 2022, Sotto reportedly said the NPC will “soon decide” whether or not to support Lacson’s candidacy for president. Moreover, Sotto also called on his comrades to “support the Lacson-Sotto tandem or not support [another] presidential candidate.”

Does this mean that the individual members of the NPC are not institutionally bound by the tandem Lacson (an outsider to the party) and party chairman Sotto? So, without any formal NPC commitment to Lacson, Bautista seems justified in trying to improve his chances of winning by joining the Marcos-Duterte Senate hodgepodge slate.

Thoughtful observers of Philippine politics should not be surprised by this turn of events. In these May 2022 elections, NPC Senate candidates received endorsements from several presidential candidates. President Sotto himself revealed that he allowed friends of the NPC to “attend rallies of other presidential candidates”.

Lacson, however, has drawn the line by endorsing other presidential candidates. But Lacson is not part of the NPC, so what disciplinary powers does he have over party members? Besides, is it really tenable?

NPC Senator Sherwin Gatchalian reportedly openly endorsed Marcos and Duterte, and was therefore (also) removed from the Lacson-Sotto list. Bautista is not alone in this predicament.

The country’s political parties are notoriously flawed. They lean unbalanced on a single family/clan, clique, or influential member at the top. These influential members, in turn, depend on their political fortune (at the national level) or their personal wealth. Once out of power, or when their personal wealth becomes unavailable to the party, the latter graciously withdraws from national politics. This explains why there is a plethora of political parties in the country, decades away from the last time they were politically relevant at the national level.

An influential politician often joins (or creates) a national political party only to use it as a vehicle for his highest political aspirations. In fact, the NPC has this kind of history: the party was formed by renegades from the Parti Nacionalista in 1992 who then brought in Ambassador Eduardo Cojuangco to compete (unsuccessfully) for the presidency in this year’s elections. -the.

Powerful figures like Cojuangco will bring resources to the party in pursuit of their individual aspirations. If successful, the party continues to exist primarily through the benevolence of these influential leaders. In case of failure, either the group withdraws or another replaces the defeated leader.

Another way to survive is for the remnants of the party (after the influential figure fades into the sunset) to merge with the president’s political party, thus gaining access to valuable resources needed to support the remaining “loyal” members . In most cases, the party will tend to focus more on local elections and perhaps throw a handful of senatorial bets that are usually left to their own devices. The party will provide some support to members, but it is far from substantial.

After the Cojuangco defeat in 1992, the NPC sat back and supported or endorsed certain presidential candidates while winning a handful of Senate seats here and there. The NPC has generally fared better in the House of Representatives, winning a peak 53 seats in 2004 and never having less than 28 seats thereafter. This reflects more the individual quality of party members than the party organization itself.

Sotto is a seasoned politician who understands how things work. Cracking the whip will only weaken the party. His teammates might just run away and transfer their personal resources elsewhere if the president tries to discipline the members. Removing “recalcitrant” senatorial candidates from the tandem list is the most they can do.

As an underdog, Lacson can’t do anything. Sotto’s hands are also tied.

In writing this letter, Bautista acted only with courtesy towards Lacson and Sotto. Others would never even do that courtesy.

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