Friday, August 5, 2011

The Role of Small Parties

President Jose Ramos Horta was hammering at small parties by saying that parties like Aileba and Mausoko clearly want subsidy of the government. While these remarks have some merits, it overlooks the essence of multiparty democracy that is defined by the Constitution. You cannot accuse a political party established solely to get subsidy from the government. People may be frustrated by the existing political parties because these parties no longer represent people's aspirations. Therefore, they decided to form new political parties aiming at achieving dreams and aspirations.

In addition, political party law only requires 1500 valid signatures to register a party. So it should come to no surprise to Mr Jose Ramos Horta that parties will continue to register until the election day because the door is wide open and the requirements are relatively easy.

In other countries, state can limit the number of political parties through two ways. First, raise requirements to register new parties, such as the law requires 5,000 signatures instead of only 1,500, new party must have branches in half of districts, and new party must have complete structure. Second, electoral threshold is raised to 5% or more. This second factor is tricky because many votes could be wasted in a system where there are many political parties.

So it is not the political parties that create problems but the system that has allowed many political parties. Criticing new and small political parties let alone attacking them just show insensitiveness to the situation.