Election Post Mortem: Multiple Parties, Personality and Patronage Politics

A race of five with shifting affiliations caused confusion; drove us mad; and now, no more than 30% of us got to station a new president.  We are in dire need of a political system (or the lack of any system) reform.  I am not sourgraping.  But see, the will of the people shouldn’t be a mere 30% of the voting populace. That is not a representative majority. In any other contest, a majority vote is 50% or more.  It wasn’t the new President’s fault.  It was the outcome of a political system of multiple parties, with temporary alliances and no clear-cut agendas. I daresay, ours is a malfunctioning system of personality-based, even money-based politics. We don’t vote for platforms. We have fan clubs. Did we even know what their parties stood for? I didn’t. Was anyone able to articulate a clear agenda, representative of a people?  I don’t know. Perhaps there was. But I was fumbling up to the finish. A platform may have been buried under the pile of persona or mudslinging. And how can we trust a candidate when they kept turning coat?  Leaders who pledge allegiance and then jump ship when the tides turn. I couldn’t keep up with the party names.  Gave up. Somehow, the party is a now mere name that grants one a bandwagon, perhaps a loot bag. Except that a true political party should serve as a link between the state and its people. In a perfect world, parties would recruit members who aspire to their ideals, formulate goals and programs, create public discourse and a political culture, and if they gain the vote, organize government.  But not here. Not in our political non-system. We have temporary alliances. Unstable coalitions. Multiple ones too. Agendas to gain a foothold, and then keep it. And support based on patronage (and sometimes pork.) Perhaps that is why our politicians behave the way they do.  Really, we don’t cast our vote based on party platforms or a program of government. We vote for the most flamboyant personality. How many actors do we have for statesmen? We have taken “popular” vote to heart. And so what about a government by the people? I think, a functioning democracy needs a functioning party system. If we had real parties, they would have screened our numerous candidates for us and then presented us with the one best qualified to serve. Instead, what we have are a myriad of party names that seemingly represent the interests of the prevailing elite and not really ours. The common lament during the elections was that “I didn’t have a choice.”  And I reckon we would have had that choice- if we clamoured for political party reform, years before and not in the last hour. Our politics, the one that runs on personality, patronage and the amount of money at one’s disposal, might have undermined our sovereignty. We had a few real options (or perhaps did not know enough for a pragmatic choice.) Some only had the least evil to pick. And so they did.

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