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Presentation by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, MP on ‘Preparing for Power and Forming Governments’at the Council of Asian Liberal and Democrats seminar on  ‘Asian Liberal Parties in Power: Getting there, Remaining there’ . Manila, June 2010 on the occasion of the inauguration of President Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III.

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I am not sure that I am quite the right person to speak at this session. Indeed, when the topic of the seminar was first proposed, I suggested that the word ‘power’ was inappropriate, and that we should instead discuss the idea of Asian Liberal Parties in government. The liberal ideal should, after all, be that governments divest themselves of power as much as possible, and allow individuals to get on with their lives and their businesses, subject only to rules, not to decisions by those in authority.

However it was pointed out that the concept of power was inextricably tied up with electoral practice in our societies – and perhaps in all societies – and so I accepted that the word ‘power’ was a magnet that attracted the sort of support that parties need if they are to take office. A consequence of this, unfortunate but inevitable, is that those who contribute to electoral success need not just recognition but also rewards. This often takes the form of positions in government, and indeed as Mr Rudd found to his cost just last week in Australia, it also requires constant attention to personal as well as political relationships.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

June 2010
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