Why Political Parties Must Be Member-Based

Why Political Parties Must Be Member-Based Featured

We mentioned in an earlier blog that members of political parties in the Philippines do not pay dues and do not have a real stake in them. These parties are funded by self-proclaimed candidates, party big-wigs and oligarchs. To understand why this system exists, one must seek for what is missing in what is - for such a long time -- existing.


Political parties acquire the money with which to finance their programs and activities from a diversity of sources. In our country, parties generally do not have much money since most of it is raised directly by candidates from personal contributions or donations. There are three means of attaining money to finance the organization: public finance or subsidies, individual membership (dues), and bribes and kickbacks from oligarchs.

Public finance is the subsidy which a party gets from the government. Unfortunately, this is not occurring in the Philippines. In its absence, parties sought for means in order to be able to mobilize. And, as what is blatantly occurring, one can discern the existence of political patronage or the so-called ‘patron-client network.’

This patron-client network is so common in our politics that it can be likened to the cell in Biology or the atom in Physics - the primitive structure of all politics. Patrons dictate what programs and platforms to present to voters and who would run for public office in gaining power through bribes and kickbacks.

To counter this existing system, political parties must be members-based. Members must pay their dues so that they will have a stake in their Party, and will not be recruited or financed by rich patrons who could use them to advance their personal political careers. This will set equal footing for everyone in the party regardless of financial status, gender, educational attainment, etc.

Political parties have to build on solid finances and transparent financial management, not be dependent or controlled by one or a few rich personalities.

In order to institutionalize political parties, some things must be done first. To wit:

- Enact laws to enable political parties to enforce clear membership rules, recruit, create internal democratic structures, register as a party, and participate in the elections.

- Reform funding for parties and campaigns by limiting donations and

contributions from single individuals, companies and powerful groups. There should be partial state subsidy based on the performance of parties in previous elections;

- Only parties which are member-based should be permitted to field in candidates for elections.

Party membership means more than just identifying with a party; it requires formal attachment to, and sharing in the work and benefits associated with, a particular political party.
Read 2176 times Last modified on Thursday, 14 July 2016 15:20
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