triumph of democracy over its ideological rivals represented the ‘end of history’,
Francis Fukuyama (1992) once stated. Waves of democratization occurred from
Western Europe to the continents of Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Philippines’ transition to democracy preceded that of the emergence of new
democracies in Europe. The country is the first state in the Southeast Asia
(SEA) region to be democratic. Yet in the 1970s and 80s, it experienced an
authoritarian interlude during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The
country was able to regain democracy after people collectively overthrow the
dictator known as the historic 1986 People Power revolution and had been
strengthening its democracy. However, Freedom House consistently marks the
Philippines as partly free with a score of 3 out of 71, both in
political rights and civil liberties. Moreover, this 2017, it is included in
the list of countries that could enter a critical point in its democracy
trajectory due to the dismal state of human rights in the country following the
Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
looking at the state of public support for democracy, it warrants to examine
first what the word ‘democracy’ means. Surveys measure democratic support
assuming that there is uniform understanding of democracy among citizens
(Canache 2012) or that the concept is salient to the targeted respondents
(Marsh 1972). A growing body of literature suggested otherwise that there
exists variation in the conceptualization of democracy among citizens within
and across nations (Baviskar and Malone 2004, Bratton, Mattes and Gyimah-Boadi
2005, Camp 2001, Canache, Mondak and Seligson 2001, Canache 2012, Carrión 2008,
Cho 2014, Chu, et al. 2008, Dalton, Shin and Jou 2007, Ferrin and Kriesi 2016,
Miller, Hesli and Reisinger 1997,Ottemoeller 1998). Researchers have also shown
that even citizens of non-democratic states could define democracy (Miller,
Hesli and Reisinger 1997). Among the terms people would associate with
democracy includes election, freedom, economic equality, liberty, rights,
voting and rule of law. Most would also argue that despite the occurrence of
different conceptions, liberal definition of democracy is still more embraced.
Furthermore, others have moved beyond this and examine what could explain these
differences as well as the implications of different conceptualization of
this line of research, it is of interest of the researcher to look at
democratic conceptualizations of other state actors such as political elites.
These elites play an important role as they hold key positions and power to influence
political processes and institutions.By employing discourse analysis of key
informant interviews, this paper intends to look at the different discourses on
democracy held by key political actors with a specific focus on legislators in
the Philippines. With more than decades of democratic experience and having
more capacities and means, it is quite expected that these elites have
developed their own understanding of democracy. Specifically, this paper would
ask How do Filipino legislators understand democracy? Are there competing or
converging discourses? How do they promote this and does it affect the
formation of public’s democratic conception?
different conceptions of democracy of legislators is of significance in a
number of ways. Since there are limited studies on other political actors’
concept of democracy, it would greatly contribute to the existing literature on
democracy. Moreover, it would be of use for future research seeking to compare
if mass and elites in the Philippines have conflicting or similar ideas and
discourses on democracy.
the next section, the existing literature on the topic will be examined. Then,
a discussion of the framework underpinning the entire research would be
provided. Following this would be a presentation of research methodology and
detailed process of how the study will be conducted.
1 1 = most free, 7= least free