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India’s elections: Lessons for Philippine opposition

June 11, 2024

MANILA – Christchurch—Shortly after the 2022 presidential elections, progressive thinkers underscored how the return of the Marcos dynasty to Malacañang—on the coattails of their nouveau riche allies from the South, the Dutertes—was the upshot of decades of festering economic inequality, dynastic politics, and unresponsive state institutions. After all, even the most celebrated reformist presidents fell far short of delivering the fundamental promise of the Edsa People Power Revolution. If anything, the concentration of power in the hands of political dynasties intensified in the early 2010s, the same era that saw 40 richest families gobbling up three-fourths of newly created wealth in the country.

In contrast, some liberal influencers descended into nefarious forms of voter-blaming with an unabashed touch of elitist snobbery. Others embraced a bizarre form of defeatism by claiming that—with a subtle touch of voter-blaming elitism—the likes of Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo would have been elected as a top leader had we lived in a country like New Zealand.

To begin with, New Zealand is not a utopia. Though unquestionably a gorgeous nation with an impeccable history of progressive leadership, the island nation is struggling with all forms of challenges, including falling economic productivity, overdependence on exports of low-value-added goods to China, and reconciling with its increasingly multicultural social reality while addressing injustices suffered by the Māori minority.

On a more fundamental level, however, comparing the Philippines to the likes of New Zealand—a highly developed and broadly egalitarian nation—is entirely unhelpful. Instead, the liberal opposition and its impresarios should