Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Drilon urges liberal parliamentarians: Address misconceptions on liberalism, avert ‘credibility crisis’
MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon last week challenged liberal parliamentarians across the globe to show that liberalism remains the best guiding principle for nations towards positive political and economic reforms, in order to avert a “crisis of credibility.”
“Liberalism is said to be the ideology of the 21st century, but why does it appear to be in retreat? If liberals can offer the best solutions to the problems confronting the world today, why are we losing elections to conservatives, populists, and ultranationalists? What are we doing wrong, and how can we address this?” he said in his welcome address before liberal members of parliament from all over the world.
Drilon, who is also IPU Executive Vice President and former chairperson of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), hosted the dinner reception of the 132nd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) attended by Liberal parliamentarians from Belgium, Botswana, Cambodia, Canada, Cote d’ Ivoire, Ireland, Lithuania, Malaysia, Philippines, and South Africa in Hanoi, Vietnam on 27 March 2015.
He said that one possible cause of liberalism’s current crisis is the inability to correct the misconceptions about it, particularly in relation to liberalism’s effects to national economies.
“The problem is that we liberals have not been very aggressive in answering the accusations against us, despite our knowledge of empirical evidence to the contrary.” For example, Drilon said, numerous multi-country studies in the past had found that “the group of the poorest and least growing countries is almost totally identical with those who have not opened their economies and constantly interfere with the freedom of the people.”
“The per capita income in the economically freest countries is almost 10 times as high as in the least free. Gross domestic product is highest in countries with the best ranking for protection of rights to property. Long-term prosperity is positively correlated with stable, constitutional conditions (rule of law),” he added.
Drilon said that these findings show that “liberal policies have been more successful in addressing wealth inequality than various policies which forward state intervention.”
“It is time that we liberals become more vocal about this, and face the criticisms against us, head-on,” he added.
Drilon also said that the contributions of liberalism to modern society are enormous, adding that its core principles are embodied in the most important documents of modern times. “The principles that we hold dear today, including freedom, equality, human rights, democracy, rule of law, good governance, and fair competition, can be traced directly to the liberal ideology,” he said.
“Provided liberalism does not abandon its fundamental principle – the principle of freedom – I have no doubt that liberalism can surmount this challenge,” Drilon added.
The 132nd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) was organized by Liberal International (LI) and the CALD, with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). Themed “Liberalism in the 21st Century,” the Hanoi event was an integral part of a consultation and reflection process, which aimed to understand better the challenges faced by liberals and offer possible joint solutions as it hoped to encourage liberals to “walk the talk” and stand for the true value of liberalism amidst its contemporary challenges.
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