A Marcos Presidency Will Be Bad News for the Philippines’ Democracy

A Marcos Presidency Will Be Bad News for the Philippines’ Democracy
Protesters wearing masks portraying Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stand behind a mock jail during a rally near the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, March 8, 2022 (AP photo by Aaron Favila).

Although the actual election isn’t for another six weeks, current polling suggests Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is all but a lock to succeed Rodrigo Duterte as the Philippines’ next president. Marcos, a former senator and son of the late longtime Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., has opened up a massive lead against his nearest challenger, current Vice President Leni Robredo. A survey released by the respected Pulse Asia in March found that Marcos led Robredo by a whopping 44 points, with 60 percent of respondents expressing a preference for him. That actually increased his polling lead by 11 points from a prior Pulse Asia poll.

Given what a divisive figure he is among sections of the Philippine population, Marcos will also benefit from the rules governing the country’s one-round presidential election, in which a simple plurality, rather than a majority, suffices to win. The opposition, currently fragmented around six candidates, might stand a chance if it rallied around one clear rival to Marcos, but so far that hasn’t happened, and it seems unlikely.

As a result, it’s not premature to consider what to expect from Marcos, commonly known by his nickname Bongbong, should he become president as expected. When it comes to form, he would almost surely run a more businesslike and orderly administration than the vulgar, unpredictable Duterte. But when it comes to substance, he would probably continue some of Duterte’s most disastrous foreign and domestic policies, while adding other problematic elements of his own.

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