The Different Lenses of Good Governance

The evaluation of governance by the public is relative to one's experience of government. Those who benefit directly and legitimately from government projects and programs often heap praise towards the performance of government officials. Those who illegitimately benefit from a government position or political favour will turn a blind eye on the wrongs of its benefactor and will do everything for political preservation. Those who have negative experiences about government, or feel an absent government in critical life-threatening or life-saving situations will not mince their words when it comes to offering criticisms.

Many people realize the importance of a working and effective government during crisis situations such as today's COVID-19 pandemic. Policies, programs, and projects of government result in saved or claimed lives, development or closure of businesses and progression or regression of people.  While citizen participation and engagement are a crucial part of the equation, governance remains a most crucial factor in nation-building.

The evaluation of governance by the public is relative to one's experience of government. Those who benefit directly and legitimately from government projects and programs often heap praise towards the performance of government officials. Those who illegitimately benefit from a government position or political favour will turn a blind eye on the wrongs of its benefactor and will do everything for political preservation. Those who have negative experiences about government, or feel an absent government in critical life-threatening or life-saving situations will not mince their words when it comes to offering criticisms. 

Public satisfaction surveys, while reflective of a segment of a population, should be taken with a grain of salt. While it provides a compass for government officials to measure public feedback on their policies, programs and projects, society's policy and programmatic environment should not be based on populist overtures. When this happens, minority and critical interest groups are neglected which is a form of democratic exclusion. These observations, however, do not diminish the results of opinion surveys conducted by reputable pollsters and firms.

Grassroots immersion is critical in the determination whether government's performance is satisfactory or not. While social media provides a good indication of public sentiment, nothing beats the actual sentiment felt from the 'ground' where a cold response from people indicates gross dissatisfaction while kisses and hugs show love and admiration for a politician. This does not mean, however, that this will translate to continuity in public service. 

If the above are not conclusive measures of good governance, the best referendum perhaps would be elections. People, who supposedly possess the psychological and political maturity, are given the opportunity to cast their votes to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the current dispensation. The results of elections are often seen to validate the performance of incumbent or the desire of people for new leaders to replace the ineffective ones.

There are many and multiple ways and platforms to measure good governance. Experience of government varies from one individual to another. What is good or bad for one may not be good or bad for another. Therefore, respect for diverse opinions is important in a truly democratic society.

We have different lenses in measuring good or bad governance. Most of the time, our capacity to discern depends on the type of person we are.

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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