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In Session: Right Populism World Wide: Rodrigo Duterte in Comparative Perspective
4: Deeply Local Roots of Right Populist Politics: The Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte in Comparative Perspective
Monday, March 22, 2021
12:30pm – 2:00pm EDT
London School of Economics and Political Science, Uzbekistan
The rise of right populist politics in rich and middle income countries over the past ten years can be traced to the universal impact of decades of neoliberalism and the reshaping of political possibilities through the revolution in information and communications technology and ubiquitous social media. Neoliberal globalisation has left a legacy of rising inequality, arrested social mobility and widespread cynicism towards liberal democracy, while social media and ICT tools have allowed political “outliers” to seize, or become serious challengers, for state power in both developed and developing countries. Rodrigo Duterte’s rise in the Philippines tapped into these international currents. However, Duterte like other populists of the political right across Europe, North and South America and Asia, tapped into profoundly local political and social traditions and attitudes to gain power. While these new movements of the political right share common methods, a common bent towards authoritarian rule and misogynist and divisive social mobilisation, they differ in terms of the economic interests they promote and the alliances they build at home and abroad. This paper examines Duterte’s rise to, and exercise of, power in the Philippines in comparison with that of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Narendra Modi in India, making passing reference to right populists elsewhere in the world. It argues that the significance of this international turn to the political right can only be understood by grasping the deeply local roots these actors have put down.