The outcome of the 2019 midterm elections in the Philippines displayed the domineering political influence of President Rodrigo Duterte, a crowded-out opposition, and the limits of his promise for genuine and meaningful socio-political change.
As the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 2018–2019, the region of Southeast Asia highlights two compelling political phenomena: the emergent ‘authoritarian populism’ of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines and the return to the ‘Asian Values’ of Mahathir Mohamad in Malaysia.
In recent years, voters have increasingly chosen populist leaders from the left and from the right. An increasing number of elected populist leaders can be found in countries with long democratic traditions and history. It might be less surprising to find populist leaders in countries that are purportedly democratic but without necessarily having strong liberal democratic traditions.
President Duterte is the most controversial figure in the Philippines today, and arguably in the ASEAN region. He is now President of the Philippines, which chairs ASEAN in 2017. What is in store for the Philippines and for the chairmanship of ASEAN?