The Vote in the Philippines: Elite Democracy Disrupted?

Issue Date October 2016
Volume 27
Issue 4
Page Numbers 135-44
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Read the full essay here.

In electing former Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte to office in the May 2016 presidential elections, Filipinos voted for a departure from the “straight” path associated with term-limited president Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III. Pledging to institute constitutional reforms, crack down on drug use and crime, and tackle enduring problems of poverty and inequality, Duterte responded to Filipino voters’ most immediate and incisive concerns. But Duterte’s disdain for human rights and democratic checks and balances, combined with his promises to make changes quickly, may lead him and others in his administration to circumvent or weaken democratic institutions and processes. Whether that change will revitalize or damage Philippine democracy will depend on the level of support Duterte receives from the Filipino public as well as the response of elite groups and key institutions.

About the Author

David G. Timberman is a technical director at Management Systems International in Arlington, Virginia. Currently he is the Lee Kong Chian Distinguished Fellow on Contemporary Southeast Asia, in residence at the National University of Singapore and Stanford University.

View all work by David G. Timberman