Thursday, May 03, 2007

Willy Prilles on Variants of Populism

In his second post about New Public Management (NPM), Willy Prilles distinguishes between two kinds of populism:

"1. politics unfavorable to elite: politics or political ideology based on the perceived interests of ordinary people, as opposed to those of a privileged elite; and 2. focus on ordinary people: focus or emphasis on the lives of ordinary people, e.g. in the arts and in politics."

He then tackles the question on whether the Robredo administration in Naga is populist:

"It will depend on which meaning of populism one uses: it definitely is not if the label carries the first meaning, which essentially demonizes the elite. In this case, such a divisive rhetoric is actually an exercise in hypocrisy as the entire leadership, comprised mostly of specialists with high degree of education, in fact belong to the elite.

But if populism were to take the second meaning, then the administration is certainly populist -- by virtue of creating innovative mechanisms through which ordinary people's social, political and economic needs are addressed more effectively.

I highly recommend reading the entire entry. (I also recommend that you download the linked PowerPoint presentation of Mayor Robredo.)

Just a few observations:

(1) The attitude that Luis Leonardo (one of the fellow participants of Willy Prilles in the NPM Seminar) exhibits i.e. his willingness to trade off productivity for hunger, as well as...
(2) the presence of exemplars of NPM among Local Government Units (LGU's) and the corresponding lack of at the National Level (as stated in Mayor Robredo's PowerPoint presentation)...

...are further manifestations of the trifucation of the State.

Update (05-03-2007 9:15pm): Willy Prilles reports that Mayor Robredo has been disqualified from running for reelection by the Comelec. Just goes to show what's in store in terms of good governance under the present dispensation as well as the limits of a trifurcated state. I hope the people of Naga don't take this travesty lying down. I can't but help think though that this kind of abuse would not have happened if men and women of goodwill have not given too much slack to the current occupant of Malacanang. Without vigorous opposition at the outset, impunity has a way of catching on and catching up.

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