I thought that the holding of a forthcoming global summit, “Negotiating the New Normal”was timely. It is intended for everyone who believes that we need to prepare ourselves as we enter a new world. For indeed, we are confronted with an unprecedented sense of urgency. It is said that Covid-19. had “exposed the limitations and failure of the existing legal, socio-economic and political infrastructure. But at the same time, it had presentedunexpected opportunities. And challenges in thefor sustainable paths towards a more resilient future.
In this brave new world which is also being altered by technology, old practices will unarguably be replaced by new ones.
In the next few months, various sectors may need to organize for future mini-summits focusing on our national and local concerns. In the search for alternatives, may we not fall into the morass of neutrality, indifference, confused identity, and satisfaction with mediocrity.
Such initiatives will require inter-sectoral cooperation along concerns that affect all of us - inequality, unemployment, erosion of participation and social justice, rising populism, disinformation, among many others.
With Election 2022 not too far away, we cannow start with voter education as we consider these developments:
- Youth vote–Comelec says that by 2022, we shall have more than 4 million new voters.
- Voting by Senior Citizens -Comelecwill designate a specific day of week when elderly and those below 21 will be served. Or to consider the alternative which is topass the bill on postal voting by senior citizens.
- Possibility that Covid-19 will still be around, thus a contingency plan that will require(a) voting to be held for 2 to 3 days; (b) physical distancing and other precautionary measures
- Possibility of a hybrid electoral system where manual counting of votes is proposed, together with the Automated Electoral System.
A Voter Education plan to be carried out nationwide early enough in 2021 where campaign materials on print, video and literacy tools will support the use of Internet and social media and traditional channels. Debates and dialogues on issues that had divided us over the years - partisanship, nepotism, turncoatism, political dynasties, vote buying, fraud, stealing of votes and other forms of corruption. .
While awaiting charter change which may not come in the next two years, legislation can be enacted on issues such as grant of state subsidies to qualified political parties and broadening participation of women and indigenous groups through innovations, such as quotas.
Political parties have become “convenient vehicles of political patronage rather than programmatic entities”, according toPaul Hutchcroft, electoral system analyst. This weakness is the result of incentives put in place by the electoral system.
Thus, the “closed-list proportional representation system” where parties themselves list and rank legislative candidates as the “gold standard” of building party cohesion across various cultural and national contexts is proposed. In this system, citizens vote for parties rather than candidates, who in turn win a number of seats proportional to the votes they receive. “By changing the system of incentives through electoral system design, one gets to change how politics is done.”
But the above, like voting the president and the vice-president together in the same party, are reforms that would have to wait until we are ready for charter change.
In the meantime, let us focus on building the basic foundation for electoral reforms - strengthen our political parties as well as public participation.
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