Duterte’s Violent “Right” Populism in the Philippines

Lecture | April 4 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Mark Thompson, Professor of Politics, City University of Hong Kong

 Center for Southeast Asia Studies

Since becoming Philippine President in July 2016 Rodrigo R. Duterte has launched a violent crackdown on drugs, with nearly 7,000 people killed (as of January 2017) from police “encounters” and vigilante killings. Elected in a free and fair election in May 2016, Duterte’s regime is post-liberal but not (yet) explicitly anti-democratic, with the press still free and the powers of Congress and the Courts not yet formally curtailed. Duterte’s 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 far left, promised greater commitment to solving socio-economic problems, and taken a nationalist stance against the U.S., he has implemented the sub-national authoritarian “Davao model” nationally, using “violence as spectacle” to discourage investigation of the killings and convey the political message that he will punish “evil” while protecting ordinary “good” people. For many Filipinos, this state violence has created a sense of political order amidst weak institutions. Duterte’s “right” populism shows some similarities to illiberalism elsewhere in Southeast Asia but differs in important respects from “rich world” right populism represented by Trump and the European far right.

Mark R. Thompson (Ph.D., Yale University) is head of the Department of Asian and International Studies (AIS) and director of the Southeast Asia Research Centre (SEARC) at the City University of Hong Kong. He is the author of The Anti-Marcos Struggle (1995), Democratic Revolutions (2004), co-editor of Dynasties and Female Political Leaders in Asia (2013), and the author of a number of journal articles on Asian politics, most recently “Democracy with Asian Characteristics” in the Journal of Asian Studies and “The Vote in the Philippines: Electing a Strongman” (together with Julio Teehankee) in the Journal of Democracy (October 2016). He is editor of a forthcoming special issue on the early Duterte presidency for the ,i>Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs and is currently completing a co-authored book manuscript about the Philippine presidency.

 cseas@berkeley.edu, 510-642-3609