December 24, 2010

Party-list law = Crap

Ever wondered how the winning party-list organizations are chosen? Ever since the BANAT vs. COMELEC decision, there has been a new way in determining which party wins and how many seats they win.

First the Supreme Court abolished the 2% threshold rule, since you can't fill up the 20% of the seats reserved for party-list reps with that rule.

Second, they made the parties that have 2% or more of the vote gain automatic one seat. As usual if they can't fill up the 20% of the reserved seats, the parties with less than 2% of the vote will get one seat in descending order until the 20% is filled up.

Now isn't this a "fair deal" to everyone concerned?

Not yet.

The Supreme Court, although it had a "fair enough" ruling, essential did a case of judicial legislation, which is wrong since only Congress legislates -- what they could've done is ditch the entire party-list law altogether, but that'll put the entire Congress in disorder so they really had no choice.

Interestingly, the SC did not rule the "maximum 3-seat rule" as unconstitutional, since "it prevents one party from dominating the party-list reps." However, it defeats the purpose of the party-list law in allocating proportional representation (PR).

Wait, what's PR?

In the Philippines, we don't really give a shit on PR since political butterflies abound -- the House of Representatives has historically been controlled by the party of the president. However, in the case of party-list congressmen, the number of seats won should be more or less in proportion to the number of votes garnered. This is pretty important as far as party-list reps are concerned since this is the sole way they win seats, as opposed to district reps who win by having the highest amount of votes (winner-takes-all or FPTP).

Basically, the party-list law has mandated PR. The number of seats won should be in proportion to the number of votes garnered. However, the specifics of the original law clearly didn't do this with the "maximum 3-seat rule" and the 2% threshold (actually more on the 3-seat max rule). PR basically minimizes the "wasted vote" scenario -- votes for losing candidates are deemed "wasted" (to get this, about 58% of the votes in the presidential election were wasted, excluding the null votes). The old 3-seat max, 2% threshold rules actually converted plenty of wasted votes since all votes above 6% are wasted, not to mention the wasted votes of the reps who were not seated due to the 2% threshold.

So how can we remedy this? The Supreme Court took the law into their own hands, but Congress should've been the one that did this. Congress should adopt a new law that minimizes wasted votes and promotes PR. This is where we can get ideas from other countries. More on this on Christmas!

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