PEOPLE have to stop convincing themselves and fooling others that elections will provide social security and create the environment where everyone gets the chance to an equitable and humane life, because it won’t.

Politicians and their cheering squad also have to step back and rethink before they fool themselves into thinking that they are the answer to the country’s woes and that the public believes that they are with and for the people.

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And there may be a need for us to rethink the concept of equivalence between democracy and elections.

In a country where corruption, weak governance and loss of public faith thrive, and where democracy is synonymous with staying in power at all cost, there is a lot for collective reflection and action.

Governance leaves much to be desired. When politicians are concerned only with their self preservation, their commitment to efficient public services suffers. It is this environment where the public should realize that only by getting their acts together, could they be able to assert for their rights.

The right to basic services like health, shelter and education, including the right for people to know speaks highly of the challenge on accountability and transparency in governance. But elections cannot secure this. Only an active citizenry can.

Election is not also a guarantee that those who are claiming to be for the poor will not revert to devious means and devices to remain in power. We have been witness to how politicians package themselves for the poor but have left them empty.

The system encourages failure of governance. Where elections remain largely traditional and personal allegiances dictate investment in candidates in exchange for business and political protection, a vicious cycle of abuse and corruption happens.

The prohibitive cost of aspiring for national elective office has caused its own distortions. It has put a premium on name recall. There is a clear economic reason for this: the higher a candidates name recall at the starting line, the less money per vote needs to be invested introducing the candidate to the voting public

Where the policy making process has become vulnerable to populism and less towards tough policy choices and higher degree of public participation, there is little chance for elections to strengthen our democracy. Ours remain a weak, if not fragile one.

In 2010, we might see the worsening of the most undesirable characteristics of the forthcoming elections. The ball is in our hands. Email comments to roledan@gmail.com