The Marcos dynasty is returning to the top of energy within the Philippines. Nearly precisely 50 years after Ferdinand Marcos declared martial regulation and established a dictatorship within the nation, his namesake son is about to take over the Malacañang Presidential Palace.
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr secured greater than 30 million votes within the Might 9 presidential election, practically double that of his nearest rival, present Vice President Leni Robredo.
The final time a Filipino chief loved such a commanding electoral mandate was in 1969, when Marcos Sr turned the primary post-war president to win a re-election within the Philippines.
Naturally, critics concern that Bongbong will replicate his father’s dictatorial ambitions and, much like outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, ditch Western democratic companions in favour of nearer ties with China.
Upon nearer examination, nonetheless, it turns into clear that Marcos Jr should share energy with different main political dynasties.
Moreover, not like the Dutertes, the Marcoses neither have lifelong resentment in the direction of the West, nor an inexplicable infatuation with authoritarian superpowers corresponding to China and Russia. Thus, the incoming Filipino president will doubtless pursue much more balanced relations with superpowers.
The approaching return of the Marcoses to the Malacañang is a results of the household’s decades-long efforts for a “counterrevolution”, specifically overturning the 1986 “Folks Energy” revolt that toppled their dynastic dictatorship. Certainly, Marcoses have been working towards reformist forces and slowly inching in the direction of regaining energy within the Philippines since their return from exile in 1991.
As early because the 1992 elections, simply years after the “Folks Energy” revolt that topped their dictatorship, the Marcoses may have been restored to energy had former First Woman Imelda Marcos and former Marcos crony Eduardo Cojuangco Jr joined forces.
The eventual victor, Fidel V Ramos, himself a distant cousin of the Marcoses, received with solely 23 % of the votes, far smaller than the mixed votes (28 %) garnered by the remnants of the previous regime. Six years later, Joseph Estrada, a trusted ally, received the presidency in an electoral landslide, largely due to the backing of the Marcoses and their legions of loyalists.
Over the succeeding many years, the Marcoses continued to win numerous high positions within the authorities. Marcos Jr, for example, has served as governor, congressman and senator all through his political profession. He misplaced the 2016 vice-presidential election by a razor-thin margin.
As I’ve beforehand written in these pages, because the early Nineteen Nineties the Marcoses have been knocking on the doorways of Malacañang by skilfully exploiting the shortcomings of the reformist administrations that got here after them.
As an alternative of empowering residents, post-Marcos administrations allowed the nation’s key political places of work and financial sectors to be dominated by a slim and rapacious elite. Greater than 80 % of elected legislative places of work within the Philippines have been occupied by members and constant supporters of distinguished political dynasties, together with the Marcoses, within the post-Marcosian period. In 2011, the 40 richest Filipino households on the Forbes wealth checklist accounted for 76 % of the nation’s gross home product (GDP) progress.
These failings by the reformists, coupled with the shortcomings of the judicial system that allowed Marcoses to contest high elected places of work regardless of going through a number of graft and corruption costs and convictions, paved the way in which for the dynasty to create the mandatory situations for his or her return to energy.
In the meantime, a free-for-all social media house plus a sorely poor training system proved a fertile floor for pro-Marcos networks of disinformation, which labored to persuade the lots that the darkish days of dictatorship had been supposedly a “golden period” in Philippine historical past.
Marcos Jr’s election victory, nonetheless, was not in any means inevitable. Maybe the one largest contributor to his unprecedented electoral success was broadly fashionable presidential daughter Sara Duterte’s determination to drop out of the presidential race.
All pre-election surveys confirmed that the longtime Davao Mayor was a shoo-in for the presidency had she not determined to slip down in favour of Marcos Jr. To place issues into context, Bongbong had the help of merely 15 % of potential voters in pre-election surveys final 12 months, whereas Sara loved the help of near a 3rd of potential voters.
However with the outgoing president prevaricating on supporting his daughter, and as an alternative favouring his longtime protégé, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, as a possible successor, Sara Duterte determined to accept the vice-presidential race, which she unsurprisingly dominated with even bigger margins. Hailing from the southern island of Mindanao and the Visayan ethnolinguistic group, the Dutertes proved a vital ally for the Marcoses, who hail from the north of the nation and from the Ilocano ethnolinguistic group.
Marcos Jr additionally benefitted from the weaknesses within the opposition camp. To be truthful, opposition chief Leni Robredo confronted a formidable alliance composed of each the Marcoses and Dutertes. To not point out confronting a broadly authoritarian-friendly voters, which proved sceptical of her liberal-democratic political agenda.
However the opposition additionally suffered from indecisiveness in addition to a scarcity of compelling narrative and a primary sense of urgency. Whereas the Marcoses benefitted from a decades-long “Counterrevolutionary” marketing campaign, the opposition managed to drag off massive rallies, key endorsements and nationwide door-to-door campaigning solely on the eleventh hour. Had they been extra organised and proactive early on, the opposition may have mounted a extra decisive problem towards the Marcos-Duterte tandem.
The highway forward
The complete restoration of the Marcoses to energy, nonetheless, shouldn’t be a trigger for complete despair for the opposition. Regardless of shedding the race, Robredo managed to spawn a brand new “Pink Motion”, which helped her garner shut to fifteen million votes, a 50 % surge in comparison with the outcomes obtained by former liberal opposition chief Manuel Roxas within the 2016 elections.
Bolstered by a military of devoted and youthful volunteers and hundreds of thousands of progressive supporters from throughout the nation, Robredo can but emerge as a formidable opposition chief who may examine the worst instincts of the incoming Marcos Jr administration.
Furthermore, the incoming Filipino president may even face inner resistance ought to he attempt to focus energy within the fingers of his household. To start with, he might want to think about the pursuits of the Duterte household, who proved instrumental within the Marcoses’ restoration to energy.
Accusing the Marcoses of cajoling his daughter out of the presidential race, outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte has publicly lambasted his successor as a “weak chief” and a “spoiled brat”. Extensively fashionable amongst Filipinos, Duterte and his daughter will doubtless resist any try by the Marcoses to entrench themselves in energy.
Though vowing coverage continuity, Marcos Jr has promised to recalibrate the incumbent’s violent drug conflict in favour of a extra rehabilitation-centred method. On overseas coverage, he has additionally taken a extra balanced method by emphasising the necessity to extra vigorously defend the nation’s territorial pursuits within the South China Sea, the place the Philippines is at loggerheads with China.
Although the Marcoses clearly resent the a number of ill-gotten wealth circumstances they’re going through in US courts, they haven’t any lifelong resentment for the West, the place most of them acquired their training. In reality, Marcos Jr, who briefly attended Oxford, is named an “aficionado of British tradition”, and his son, Ferdinand “Sandro” Marcos III, can also be largely British-educated.
Whereas Marcos will doubtless welcome heat financial ties with Beijing, he doesn’t share the incumbent’s wild infatuation with China or Russia’s Vladimir Putin. In contrast to the Dutertes, who largely spend their time partaking in provincial politics, the cosmopolitan Marcoses search and welcome engagement with the West.
Nonetheless, the long-term outlook for Philippine democracy is troubling. The incoming administration will doubtless oversee, together with allies within the legislature, the introduction of a brand new structure, which can defang anti-corruption our bodies, weaken institutional checks and balances, and undermine human rights and civil liberties.
The upshot can be not a twentieth century-style dictatorship however as an alternative what political scientists dub a “hybrid regime”, like those in Hungary or Malaysia, whereby semi-competitive elections legitimise a hegemonic coalition. Absent a concerted pushback by the liberal opposition, the Philippines may solely be left with a façade of democracy in a number of years’ time.
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.