Democratic "Empowerment" and Democratization of Politics

Olle Törnquist


Can the new middle class in the Philippines go beyond merely initiating democratization, as they did when they overthrew the Marcos dictatorship? Is it capable of carrying this project through? If not, are there other democratic forces emerging to carry out this task? As of now, such questions are not easy to answer. Nevertheless, this paper attempts to resolve these queries by examining cases that show how the radical popular movements used the May 1992 elections -- the first authentic exercise of the people's right to suffrage after the fall of the Marcos regime -- in order to advance their aims of genuine democratization. Two major tendencies are found to be at work among the cases studied - one in the direction of democratic 'empowerment,' another in the direction of democratization of politics. In the former, the revolutionary politics of conquering the state has been set aside in favor of building development alternatives within 'civil society,' thus 'empowering' the people. In the latter, 'civil society' movements call for different forms of extended politics of democratization.

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