New book on social sector policy reform in the Philippines
Room For Maneuver, launched on 4 March in Makati City, explores the politics of social sector policy reform in the Philippines. The book – which was co-edited by the late Adrian Leftwich, DLP's founding Director of Research – examines the successes and failures experienced by individuals, groups, organisations, and coalitions seeking to introduce reform.
Despite improved economic performance, high levels of poverty persist in the Philippines. Addressing difficult social issues requires solutions that are both technically and politically feasible.
This book highlights lessons from four cases involving reproductive health, freedom of information, education governance, and the prevention of violence against women and children. The cases examine how leaders and coalitions found 'room to maneuvre' to seize opportunities to introduce reform. The cases show:
- how advocates and interest groups work through formal and informal channels to shape perceptions and increase the political likelihood of their preferred choices being realised;
- which factors contribute to success or failure, and;
- how leaders, coalitions and networks can be identified and supported.
Ten key lessons
- Reform processes are long, complex, and non-linear
- Reforms need to be technically sound and politically possible
- Effective coalitions and networks are indispensable
- Values and motivations in reform coalitions vary
- Passionate, well-connected leaders drive change
- The president is not omnipotent
- Framing matters
- Reform strategies require flexibility
- External technical and financial support can help
- Align the stars and connect the dots.