Session Abstract: In comparative analysis of the global rise of “right” populists, the case of Philippine president Rodrigo R. Duterte’s violent populism often receives passing mention but seldom sustained analysis. In the emergent field of “Duterte studies” emphasis is put on his idiosyncrasies. This panel adopts a comparative perspective in an effort to generate new insights about Duterte’s rise and rule as well as right populism more generally. Like in Brazil and the U.S., the origins of a “right populist surge” in the Philippines can be found in the “legacies of neoliberalism,” with neoliberal reforms stoking cynicism toward elites and creating an audience for efforts to “drain the swamp” (Putzel 2020). But while many contemporary right populists have excluded, imprisoned, or even assassinated those othered by their rhetoric, only Duterte has instigated state mass murder of unarmed civilians through his “war on drugs” (Thompson 2020). Given massive human rights violations, intimidation of opposition, attacks on the critical media, and electoral irregularities in is not surprising the Philippines has fallen to the category of “electoral authoritarian” (V-Dem 2020). But unlike other electoral authoritarian rulers, “Duterte does not have supreme or absolute power” due to his lack of control of the military unhapped about Duterte’s rapprochement with China (Quimpo 2020). More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the limits of right populism as, similar to Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and the US’s Donald Trump, Duterte prioritized “the performance of masculinity” over an effective response to the virus outbreak, with typical overconfidence and “denialism” (Parmanand 2020).
Paper Presenter: Mark R. Thompson – City University of Hong Kong
Paper Presenter: Sharmila Parmanand – Cambridge University
Paper Presenter: Nathan Gilbert Quimpo – University of Tsukuba
Paper Presenter: Putzel James – London School of Economics and Political Science