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Cleaving Clientelism:

Is there an emergent cleavage in

Philippine Politics?
Mark R. Thompson, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
The Philippines’ next president - A re-launch of democratic
Experts’ Round Table on Presidential Elections in the
Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, Berlin, May 28, 2010
Not this…
But this
Political Translation of
Social Differences
More than just another
election campaign?
• “Deeper significance” of recent
• A key political transformation?
• Instead of shifting clientelist
– stable differences between parties
Stable or unstable?
• Widespread clientelism…
– Led to instability in Philippines (also Thailand)
• But cleavages can also be polarizing
– Class and ethnicity in particular
• But recently cleavages have led to stability
– In Europe and North America
– Brazil and Chile
– Also in India and Indonesia
What’s ahead?
• Cleavages and clientelism
• Reformism and populism as cleavages
– fleeting and polarizing
• Nonoy (and Gibo) as reformists,
– Erap (and Villar) as populists
• Aerosmith-ian conclusion
• Social conflicts and controversies
– that lead to lasting political divisions
• Categorical differences of
– class, ethnicity, religion, region, etc.
• Translated into political differences by
• Can arise through social movements
– or through electoral mobilization

• Material or immaterial inducements/attachments

• Pyramidal networks
• Based on kinship, patronage, vote buying, coercion
• Transactional voting behavior, not categorical
• “Ideal-typical” opposite of cleavages
What is reformism?
• A “bourgeois” political narrative
• Media-based campaign strategy
• Not based on clientelist political
• Voter appeals
– “Vote for me because I am good”
– “I will not steal”
– Promise to govern in national not personal
Origins of
• Origins with Rizal and Ilustrados
• “Great dissenters” in Senate
– Juan Sumulong, Claro M. Recto, Jovito
Salonga, etc.
• Out-of-power-party criticism in pre-ML
• most famously Magsaysay
• Technocratic reforms under Marcos
• “Cory” and anti-Marcos struggle
Sacrifice and reformism
• Personal sacrifice in name of national reform
– Rizal
– Moises Padilla 1951 or Evelio Javier 1986
– And of course Benigno S. Aquino 1983
• Christ-like martrydom
– associated with awa and damay of pasyon
Post-Marcos reformism
• Political narrative that supplements, or sometimes substitutes
for clientelism
– Cory of course
- Ramos and Defensor-Santiago 1992
- Roco 1998 and 2004
• Technocratic reforms by Aquino, Ramos, and even Arroyo!
- Yet undermined by cronyism
Social bases of reformism
• Pulse Asia survey shows cross-class support:
• 21% (22% D and 17% E) gave “not corrupt/clean
record,” as main reason for choosing a candidate.
• Another 12% (13% D 10% E) said would vote for a
“good person”.
• But particularly strong support from:
• Catholic Church hierarchy
• Urban reform activists
• Rising middle class and globalized business
Fleeting strategy?
• Used by political “outs” against ruling party
• When win power clientelism dominates
• Former “ins” now “out” use it
• Developmentalist reformism potentially more
long-lasting cleavage
• Long-term project of development
– Combatting corruption
– Development-oriented economic policies
– Improve economic efficiency
What is populism?
• Anti-elitist political narrative
• Though made by political elites, tend to
be outsiders
• Emphasis on popular sovereignty
• Media-based appeals
• Not based on a clientelist political network
• Voter appeals based on ideas
– “I am like you”
– “I will help you”
Origins of populism
• Movie stars
- Senator and 1959 presidential candidate
Rogelio de la Rosa
- Estrada and other local politicians in 1960s
• Imelda Marcos
- Had her own “star power” (and surrounded
by stars)
- High profile projects (e.g., Manila Film
- Social welfare programs
“Movie star
• Estrada’s “long” populist decade (1987 Senate,
1992 VP, 1998 President)
• Dozens of entertainers elected in ‘98 and ‘00
• Senators (Revilla, Sotto, Jaworski, de Castro)
• Governors (Revilla, Jr. Lapid, Fernandez)
• Mayors (Santos, Malonzo, Marquez, Estrada, etc)
• FPJ’s even stronger “virtual populism” in 2004
• Despite his “baggage” Erap still gets 25%
Ephemeral populism
• No major “populist” policy
• Like reformism, populism
eroded by cronyism
• No “first-aid” populism like
– Debt relief for poor
– Cheap health care
• Sustains populism in Thailand
Polarizing populism
• Estrada’s emergence polarizes society
– Mass appeal unsettling to elites
– Not just pro-poor, anti-elite rhetoric
• Estrada’s “rogue” presidency
– Late night cronyism
– Jueteng and other scandals
– Support Gloria who does bourgeois dirty work
Middle class versus masses
• Middle class militancy
– Reformist outrage
– Old Edsa coalition(minus masses!)
• Masses strike back
– Edsa tres after dos
– Despite corruption, Estrada remains popular
– FPJ even more popular
Noynoy and the
revival of reformism
• GMA imprisons Estrada and cheats FPJ
– But wins no kudos from middle class
– Alienation since hello Garci
– Becomes foil for renewed reformism
• Grieving Filipinos see only Saint Cory
- though was an unsuccessful president
• Will Liberal Party be defined by reform?
• Or is just the “good dynasty”/”legacy”?
Manny and
• Sharpens populist narrative against Noynoy
• Not star himself, “applies” it on noontime TV
• Ambiguous populist program
- Just a narrative, or a first aid program?
• Would he continue campaign if defeated
- like Lula in Brazil? (or Estrada?)
- More likely is “opportunistic” populism
A class cleavage without the
• Long history of left struggle
– but state repression
– armed struggle
– and skepticism about elections
• Left unable to institutionalize cleavage
– Tho some minimalist involvement in Villaquino
• “Class” politics can arise unexpectedly
– From Gramscian “bourgeois” reformists
– And millenarian movie star populists
Efficiency versus equality
• Reformist developmental efficiency
• But so is populist redistribution to poor
• Political cycling
- Too much efficiency increases inequality
- Too much emphasis on equality erodes efficiency
A political

• Cleavage can be polarizing

– Just look at Bangkok burning
• But a (semi)-class cleavage can stabilize
- If is electoral not insurrectionary
- Most widely accepted election result since 1965
- Could be basis of long-term political stability
- No more military or people power coups
- Accomodation with poor majority by small elite
Dream on?!
Dream On Dream On Dream On
Dream until your dreams come true
Dream On Dream On Dream On
Dream until your dream comes through

Sing with me, sing for the year

sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
sing with me, if it's just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take
you away…