Thursday, June 23, 2016

Some basic advantages of the parliamentary system

National big business campaign support won't have a monopoly on politicians running for national parliamentary posts because politicians will only have to run for a parliamentary seat from within their district. That is, they don't have to campaign nationwide since parliamentary seats are representative seats representing legislative or electoral districts, much like the seats in our present House of Representatives (barring the ludicrous party-list party seats).
     Therefore, anyone with a limited amount of money can aspire for a prime ministership (care of his party's support before or after the election, should his party get the majority of the seats in Parliament). Again, this is because one only needs to run within his district, therefore only needing a campaign budget for within his district, as against our present President and Vice-President and Senators who have to campaign nationwide with billions of pesos in campaign funds. This means, finally, that even a Grace Padaca or a Neri Colmenares, who may run sans national big business support, will have a chance at becoming Prime Minister, for as long as their party would nominate them or favor them to stand as their leader.
Accordingly, parties with little money, for as long as they have members running in many districts, will also have a chance at getting a majority of the seats in Parliament at any given moment in history.
Bills are quick to pass and get implemented in Parliament. Parliament simply allocates a period of time to debate on a bill/law and proceeds to vote on them, as against what we’ve witnessed as the slowness of the passage of bills in the presidential with bicameral legislature system. This latter system’s slowness often results in a failure to pass bills necessary for an administration to succeed, resulting finally in regrets at not having passed this or that at the end of every administration’s term.
     That slowness, after all, derives from nothing less than the pretense of a check and balance system supposedly embedded within the presidential with bicameral legislature design. It is a pretense, actually, that often results in nothing less than lame duck or quasi-lame duck or simply slow administrations. This also overlooks the fact that there is a more real check and balance system, and in a parliamentary system this balance exists between the ruling party's government, the shadow government, and the parliament of the streets. In fact, the supposed check and balance in a presidential with bicameral legislature system subliminally and virtually dismisses the voice of the parliament of the streets, almost discouraging it from being an active participant in the legislative debate.
Real political parties will be established, as against our present political parties' liquid integrity. Our present parties have members who come and go according to where the money (including the executive department-allocated pork barrel) is.
     Granted, however, that (according to a The Journal of Politics article) that  a parliamentary system does not guarantee a country's being rid of partisan pork. But it, at least, is able to limit pork to partisan pork, which---qua pork---can be tackled later. The parliamentary system, at least, at the outset gets rid of that basic, presidential-system-inherent, opening-of-Congress across-the-board-pork-bait that generates the party-hopping of members of losing parties to the party of the winners, consequently denying the country of the benefits of having a genuine opposition or "shadow government".
Since the parliamentary system virtually encourages the voice of the parliament of the streets to participate in the check and balance formula of governance, Prime Minsters’ terms may be shortened by virtue of a clamor for a vote of no-confidence by the people. This virtual inclusiveness is more in tune with the “government by the people, of the people and for the people” motto of democracy than is the fixed legalism of political-elite-run presidential systems with their fixed terms that can actually just ignore public clamor for resignations.
Also, instead of having minority winners, we may be able to produce majority winners (winners with plus 50% of the votes). These majority winners would be established via instant-runoff voting. Instant-runoff voting cannot be done in a presidential with bicameral legislature system because there are already too many candidates on the general election ballot under this system (president, vice-president, senators, representatives, etc.) to render instant runoffs possible.
Finally (for now), while it is true that the recent presidential debates already set a requirement for future presidential candidates, it must be noted that the parliamentary system is already by itself a culture of never-ending debate and of articulation and communication. A ruling party’s governance-with-laws itself has to be run through a parliamentary process of disclosure through articulation and communication as well as openness to arguments for and against. While not itself free from lobbyists, members of parliament are exposed by this culture of debate through what they say on the floor (or what they don’t say); and furthermore through what they say during interviews (or don’t say), since this culture would inevitably extend to the media and the streets, the voters. Through a parliamentary system, therefore, our recurring problem with merely singing and dancing and baby-carrying election candidates would be a thing of the past.
     Even in their choosing their Prime Minister candidates, the ruling party would already be choosing from among those who can best sell the party’s or ruling party factions’ policies. Thus, though a Rody Duterte could still become a Prime Minister, it would be highly unlikely that a ruling party would choose a merely most wealthy or merely most popular MP from among its ranks to be its government’s Prime Minister to face the speakers sitting on the other side of the parliamentary hall.
More later.

illustration borrowed from