Pulitika atpb

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Continuing Crisis of Legitimation

The ongoing political turbulence besieging the Arroyo administration must be seen within the larger perspective of a legitimation crisis. EDSA Dos and EDSA Tres marked the reemergence of a potential legitimation crisis that reflected the deep political and socio-economic divisions in the country. While the legality of the Arroyo administration has been upheld with finality by the Supreme Court, its legitimacy has been held in doubt. The potential legitimation crisis was exacerbated by the Oakwood mutiny and the failed impeachment of CJ Davide in late 2003. These events have served to weaken the legitimate institutions of the State akin to a political “boom-bust” cycle.
The 2004 election was an institutional mechanism for mitigating the potential crisis of legitimation in the Philippines. However, flawed administration of the electoral process, wanton use of government resources for partisan political purposes and allegations of fraud and massive cheating have diminished the political exercise as a credible legitimating mechanism. Hence, the 2004 failed to resolve the issue of legitimacy. A combination of factors has contributed to precipitate the diminution of PGMA’s legitimacy to govern.
The current political institutions in the Philippines were forged in the aftermath of the successful struggle against fourteen years of authoritarian dictatorship under the Marcos regime. In 1987, the Philippines completed its democratic transition with the adoption of a new constitution that was overwhelmingly ratified by three-fourths of the Filipino electorate. With the reestablishment of a centralized presidential democracy anchored on a majoritarian electoral system, the 1987 Constitution restored institutional continuity with the previous 1935 Constitution that was drafted under American colonial rule. Being the embodiment of the “supreme law of the land,” the 1987 Constitution serves not only as the preeminent legal and institutional framework, but a primary source of legitimation, as well.
Legitimacy is viewed here as the citizen’s willingness to comply with a system of rule regardless of how this is achieved. Hence, the maintenance of legitimacy does not depend on constitutional edict alone. It should also be sustained by the acceptance of political institutions by individual and collective actors. Institutions are not independent from the economic, socio-cultural and international context in which it is embedded. Set within the “embedding context” of an underdeveloped economy, personalistic and patriarchal culture, a weak state combined with an ethno-linguistically diverse nation, and neo-colonialism, political institutions and processes such as elections are sure to be filled with contradictions and paradoxes.


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