“Duterte’s Violent ‘Right’ Populism in the Philippines”
Mark Thompson, Head, Department of Asian and International Studies and Director, Southeast Asia Research Centre (SEARC), City University of Hong Kong
Moderated by Alfred Stepan, Wallace S. Sayre Professor of Government Emeritus, Columbia University
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
International Affairs Building, Room 918
No registration required.
Since becoming Philippine President in July 2016 Rodrigo R. Duterte has “stuck to his guns” in launching a violent crackdown on drugs, with over 6,000 deaths from police “encounters” and vigilante killings through December 2016. Elected in a fair election with a free press, Duterte’s regime is post-liberal but not (yet) explicitly anti-democratic. But Duterte only impersonates a democrat given his homogenizing view of “the people” which excludes demonized drug abusers. His appeal differs from “left” populist politicians in the Philippines who have focused on social remedies for poverty and inequality. Although Duterte has established close ties to the communist left and has taken a nationalist stance against the U.S., his agenda is driven by a monomaniacal focus on dealers and users whom he deems less than human and targets for extermination. Duterte has implemented the sub-national authoritarian “Davao model” nationally, using violence as spectacle to humiliate friends and families to discourage investigation of the killings and convey the political message that he can protect ordinary people. State-encouraged violence thus creates a sense of political order amidst weak institutions. His “right” populism shows some similarities to illiberal assaults on democracy elsewhere in Southeast Asia and beyond.