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Popular political participation

2013 06 06 SRSG Kay Somali Women-27 (8977299428)The recent Spanish general election (link) changed the political landscape. The new political party Podemos – meaning We Can (link) changed things. Spain was and sometimes still is a very traditional country. Some of its politicians are traditional, even if only rags are called trapos in Spain, not politicians. And on Mallorca, six leading families allegedly still control the island.

Islands often have the so-called insular mentality, meaning that they change only slowly and stick to very old habits and customs longer. I have been on several islands and have observed how close-knit the social circles are – whether it is on Cyprus, on Crete, on Malta, in Sardinia, on Mallorca, Madeira or Gran Canaria. I once lived in the same house as a Spanish student from Mallorca, and he told me how things are there – very conservative inspite of the modernity due to tourism.

Back to the Philippines. So many people complaining about the politics. But there is an old adage – love it, change it or leave it. I left it, but sometimes I can’t bear looking at things and commenting, damn the Internet and Facebook sometimes for bringing back what I did not want to look at anymore. But maybe I can help give ideas for those who want to change things. Those who don’t want to change things should either leave like me, or just “love” Roxas, Duterte, Binay, Santiago or Poe and all the Senators, Governors and Mayors they vote this coming May (link) and accept whatever comes – or complain again just like now.

There are not yet any real political parties or even “big tents” (link) in the Philippines – funded by member’s contributions from the middle class, and driven by the middle class. There is some self-help and mutual assistance growing, I have an article on that (link). Germany has the Christian Democrats who are more conservative, and the Social Democrats who are slightly left of center. These political parties have members and councils at all levels. Politicians usually start their careers in the respective youth organizations. They come from all walks of life and different families.

OK, it is hard to put up real political parties. Even at the local level. Filipinos have difficulty trusting each other and cooperating, that is also a major issue I have mentioned, it has made some Filipino overseas associations look like micro versions of Filipino politics. But how about starting with issues that interest citizens. For example MRT. Everybody is complaining, but nobody is really being constructive. This article about the MRT (link) was written by a Singaporean not a Filipino – from available sources no magic involved. Now if I were affected by MRT, I might put up a group to watch everything related to that issue. Even just an Internet forum, in anonymity if I am afraid of being shot by an anonymous tandem of motorcycle drivers, something which does happen in Manila (link to the new movie). But just scream at how bad Secretary Abaya is? If one is to criticize, it should be constructive and informed. Top Gear Philippines (link) has become sort of an unofficial site for people concerned about how many road users in the Philippines act, a positive example of an interest group at least starting to look at the realities.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, 18. February 2016, M√ľnchen.

P.S. The DEPADEV project (link) which is by the EU and the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation is about developing real political parties in Bangsamoro. Might they leapfrog Manila sometime?

P.P.S. the picture above is a UN representative meeting a Somalian women’s group. There are BTW some Reproductive Health groups (Link) and civil society groups (Link) in the Philippines.

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