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April 28, 2005



Why doesn't Britain have a proportional representation system? Seems fairer with all the parties around. Two-party, first past the post electoral systems waste votes and constrict choice.

The LibDems will surely gain from these elections but I was kinda expecting more from their campaign. "The Real Alternative" was the right positioning to take to emphasize the vague differences in Labour-Tory policy, but they have to try harder to back it up. I saw this press conference where Kennedy got confused about his party's proposal to scrap council tax and replace it with increased income tax for higher income bands. Is he drinking what I'm drinking? Oops, wrong party slogan.


I couldn't agree more. The Lib Dems regularly poll more than 20% of the votes and end up with less than 10% of the seats -- how can that be democratic? The answer is that that in the "mother of parliaments" the only people who could change the system are the current MPs, who all benefit from the status quo so why would they bother? That seems to me a fundamental flaw with all "democratic" systems--if it is, or becomes, unfair, who is going to change it? I stopped voting two elections ago when I realized none of the parties remotely reflected my views. If I were in the UK now, I would definitely follow Tariq Ali's line, but as I live on the other side of the world and it all seems a bit distant I didn't bother to register. So when I said I was with Tariq "all the way" I guess that wasn't exactly right.

The funny thing is, the Philippine system, with all its manifest shortcomings at least offers the electorate a range of options: in the 1998 election, for example, the candidates included a pro-business party (de Venecia), a populist candidate (Erap), hell you could even vote for Imelda Marcos if you wanted. And being the Philippines, where things are not as in other countries, you could even vote for a guy who claimed to be a direct descendant of Jesus Christ! A more colourful selection than Blair, Howard or Kennedy anyway.


There are more choices in the Philippine electoral system, true. A wider selection of nuts, for sure. I'm sure you're aware why there are COMELEC guidelines concerning "nuisance candidates". I don't know if you have heard of the perennial nuisance candidate, Racuyal (forgot his first name). Included in his platform were : 1) the construction of a forcefield to protect the entire archipelago from typhoons and 2) a University of Common Sense.

But here you have BNP, Veritas, RESPECT, the Greens, UKIP to make the race slightly more interesting, too. Last week, Channel 4 mistakenly ran UKIP subtitles on the Greens' party election broadcast.That was the most fun I had since the campaign started. :-)

Sadly, if less than 59% of the electorate votes next Thursday, there will be bigger representation issues to face the British electoral system in the near future. Oddly enough, Philippine politicians never deliver but Filipino voters always like to vote.


Your first sentence touched a raw nerve. Yes, I heard about the Comelec rules on "nuisance" candidates. The whole concept seems flawed to me. First, isn't it someone's democratic right to be a "nuisance"? I guess you have probably heard about about Screaming Lord Such and his Monster Raving Looney party in Britain? I thought it was brilliant. The party even won a few council seats. Derision for the established political process seems a valid form of political action to me -- even to be encouraged. Second, who is to say who is a "nuisance"? GMA was a nuisance canadidate as far as I was concerned, with her stupid "priority project of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo" billboards all over the place. Just like the first past the post system, the "nuisance" candidate concept is designed to restrict political activity to the "serious" politicians (and we all know what a wonderful job they do).

Mr Racuyal sounds like my sort of guy -- I'll check him out. Funny story about the subtitles.


Guidelines vs nuisance candidates started, I think, with the intention to root out fraud. Spoilers with the same surnames as leading candidates would be fielded to confuse voters. So then the COMELEC was tasked to weed out the fakers. Alas, the genuine lunatics became casualties to this process.

Here's a link to a good Racuyal article by Ambeth Ocampo. In Racuyal's own words: "Mental deviation is an asset to an individual!" I couldn't agree more. See http://www.inq7.net/opi/2004/jan/14/opi_arocampo-1.htm.

By the way, there has been some flap over here about student voters getting 2 chances to vote, once in their hometown and another at university. It's illegal if they're caught but apparently, there are no checks in place to prevent them from voting twice (I even know one who has 3 chances to vote). Time for the Filipino contribution to electoral technology: indelible ink! Used in South Africa, if I'm not mistaken, during the first general elections and in Iraq recently, I might add, by way of promoting this wonder product. The politics tutors here laughed when I brought this up. They thought I was joking.

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