In the first few decades after independence in 1946 it seemed that the Philippines had all the resources and potential to become a development success story. Instead, during the country’s long period of martial law under the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the political instability under his successor Corazon Aquino the Philippines failed to realize this potential and remained poor and underdeveloped. Recently the situation has changed markedly, leading some to predict that the Philippines will be one of the “Next Eleven” or N-11 countries with considerable potential for economic growth in the 21st century. This paper examines the role of political changes in the Philippines in contributing to this turnaround. One section defines institutions and their importance, while another looks at the weaknesses that have plagued the Philippines’ electoral and multiparty political systems. Finally, some prescriptions on how to begin to address these institutional and electoral dysfunctions are discussed.
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