The Philippines is a country made up of over 7,000 islands in Southeast Asia, whose politics have their own unique features and characteristics. It's worthwhile to understand a little more about the political dynamics of this diverse nation, which is home to over 88 million people speaking various languages and practicing at least two major religions. These political dynamics are influenced by a range of political organizations using differing strategies and drawing their power from multiple sources.

Constitutional Government

The most prominent political organization in the Philippines is, of course, the government itself. The country's constitution establishes the Philippines as a republic with three main branches of government, just like the U.S. The executive branch is led by the president, who is elected by the people for a single term of six years. The legislative branch is divided into the Senate, whose senators are each elected by the whole country, and the House of Representatives, whose members are elected to represent specific local districts in the Philippines. The judicial branch, like that of the U.S., is headed by a Supreme Court.

Multiple Political Parties

The Philippine constitution guarantees the right to form political parties, and the country's multi-party system encourages the inclusion of multiple voices. Major parties in the legislature of the Philippines include the Liberal Party, the Nacionalista Party and the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats. A portion of representatives in the House are also elected through a party-list system, which allows less powerful parties to get representatives elected through voting directly on their party platforms rather than competing district by district.

Family Dynasties

Though politicians in the Philippines officially organize through political parties, it's often family ties that matter most. Several families have multiple members serving as politicians, a trend noticeable by the many similar last names. Political families range from those of former presidents, like the Marcos family of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, to newcomers such as the Pacquiao family of famous boxer Manny Pacquiao. What all these families have in common is money -- a necessary feature for most successful election campaigns.

Armed Rebel Groups

There are also those in the Philippines who forego or give up on the political process to pursue their own goals by force. One of the oldest rebel groups in the Philippines is the New People's Army, a Maoist militia representing the Communist Party of the Philippines. The NPA waged a bloody guerrilla war in the 1970s and 1980s, but has now lost much of its influence. In the south of the Philippines, there are also various rebel groups fighting for independence or self-rule for the Moro people, Muslim descendants of the sultanates who governed the region before the 19th century. The oldest of these groups is the Moro National Liberation Front, which reached peace with the government in 1996. However, the fight has continued with various splinter groups, such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Al Qaeda-tied Abu Sayyaf, as well as factions of the MNLF itself.