Friday, May 15, 2009

Democracy and election watch

Liberty Institute in India has made a great initiative -- a website and discussion forum to inform the citizens of the various political parties, their platform, candidates, election staff, etc.

In the Philippines, there are also major initiatives by independent groups, like the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) which was formed during the Marcos dictatorship in the mid-80s. Since election cheating is as natural as the Sun rising tomorrow until this day, NAMFREL continues to exist. Although recently, its reputation has been tainted with favoritism of certain political parties.

Then there are also church-based initiatives like Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), a few others. These are grassroots political education projects to inform mainly poor voters not to sell their votes to cheating policians, corrupt politicians, etc.

These two plus a few others maintain websites that inform citizens of their rights and responsibilities as voters.

I think that in terms of voter education, there are enough initiatives in the Philippines. Political parties also have their own initiatives to cheat or counter-cheat since election cheating is a "given" reality. So many people want to "serve the public"! If they have to cheat, if they have to kill, if they have to sell their soul to the devil -- the monopolists, the drug lords, gambling lords, prostitution lords, etc. -- they will do it, so that they can "serve the public."

What is lacking in the country are initiatives to inform citizens to be more self-reliant and responsible individuals, not wait for the State and politicians to provide most (if not everything) that they want. Free market and individual liberty organizations in the country are very few and small. The bulk of intellectuals in the country are part of the big state machinery of big taxes, big welfare promises and programs, big intervention philosophy.

Here is an update from Liberty Institute, below.

India is holding its 15th general election to elect new members to the Lower House of national Parliament, the Lok Sabha.

* 715 million voters
* 57% turned out to cast their ballot over the five phases of polling
* 8070 candidates are in the fray
* 543 seats in the Lower House are at stake
* 0.84 million polling stations
* 4.7 million polling staff
* 4.7 million security personnel deployed

Polling took place in five phases beginning on April 16, and ending on May 13. The votes will be counted on May 16. This is one of the most open election ever, with very little separating the two major political blocks.

Liberty Institute has undertaken an initiative - Empowering India - to improve our understanding of the miracle of democracy in India. Please explore the unique features on www.EmpoweringIndia .org

Empowering India is seeking to compile information about candidates, constituencies, political parties, so that the citizens and the voters are better able to empower themselves, and participate in this political experiment making democracy meaningful.

Liberty Institute, is an independent think tank, based in New Delhi. We believe that market economics and democratic politics, are two sides of the same coin. An open and competitive market empowers the consumer by enhancing freedom of choice in the economic sphere, while a free and open democracy empowers the citizens by ensuring freedom of choice in the political sphere. Empowering India initiative is being partly supported by the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung - für die Freiheit.

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