“Populist Demagogy in Southeast Asia: Thaksin and Duterte Compared”

As is the case throughout the contemporary globe, greater quantities of wealth have been concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. This has led to the rise of demagogic strongmen who exploit popular grievances for personal gain.

Thaksin and Duterte are leading examples of this phenomenon. Yet, they have both faced embedded elite interests that have mounted formidable defences of their privileges. This has curtailed populist inroads into established power networks.

Video Sections:

Why the rise in demagogic figures in Southeast Asia: 00:00
Thaksin’s rise in Thailand: 01:20
Duterte in the Philippines: 11.25
Why should we consider demagogy 23:35

Banner: Caricatures Portrait Drawing Illustration: thongyhod / Shutterstock.com

Mesrob Vartavarian

Posted by Mesrob Vartavarian

Dr. Mesrob Vartavarian is a Visiting Fellow at Cornell University’s Southeast Asia Program. He studied history at UCLA (BA/MA) and Cambridge (PhD) and began his career as a scholar of early colonial South Asia but has since shifted his research focus to modern Southeast Asia with an emphasis on the Philippines. His interests include colonial state formation, plunder politics, borderland insurgencies by ethnic minorities, postcolonial praetorian regimes, and Cold War-era conflicts across insular and mainland states. His publications have appeared in Modern Asian Studies, the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, South East Asia Research, Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, and the IIAS Newsletter. Dr. Vartavarian is currently working on a monograph-length study of the Philippine military after Marcos.