Ex-dictator’s son becomes new president

After counting around 90 percent of the votes, the 64-year-old was uncatchable ahead of his main rival, the incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo. Marcos Jr. got almost 30 million votes. During the election campaign, he had promised to unite the Philippines, create jobs and do something about the rising prices in the country. Unity is “the first step in getting out of this crisis,” Marcos Jr. said at the launch of his campaign in February.

A total of ten candidates were up for election, but only Marcos Jr. and former Vice President Leni Robredo, against whom he narrowly lost in 2016, were attested realistic chances. According to the constitution, his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, who is very controversial because of his tough fight against drug-related crime, was not allowed to run for a second term. Political observers warn that the Southeast Asian island nation could be heading in an even more authoritarian direction under the leadership of 64-year-old Marcos Jr.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Reuters/Eloisia Lopez

Marcos Jr.: It is feared that he will steer the Philippines onto an even more authoritarian course

Marcos regime known for human rights abuses

The regime under ex-dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his eccentric wife Imelda once made a name for itself with murder, torture and the disappearance of political opponents without a trace. Marcos Jr. became governor of his home province of Ilocos Norte while his father was still under dictatorship.

36 years ago, the Marcos family fled a popular uprising into US exile, where Ferdinand Marcos died in 1989. The family returned to the Philippines, Marcos Jr. became a member of the Philippine House of Representatives and Senate, among other things. Marcos Jr.’s victory allows the family to return to Manila’s Malacanang Palace after being evicted.

The Marcos clan also owes its comeback to the disillusionment with the continuing gap between rich and poor and allegations of bribery, which accompanied all governments after the end of the dictatorship. Marcos Jr. has also benefited from an alliance with the outgoing president’s daughter, Sara Duterte, who was running for vice president. In addition, the dictator’s son is supported by powerful families who have enormous influence in the feudal and corrupt Philippine politics.

Election campaign full of false information

Opponents had tried in vain to have Marcos Jr. excluded from the presidential election because of his criminal record for tax evasion. They also accuse him of doctoring his academic credentials. The connection to his father has made the 64-year-old one of the most controversial politicians in the country. But Marco Jr.’s election campaign has benefited from a flood of false and misleading messages online, aimed at young Filipinos who have no memories of the corruption, killings and abuses of the Marcos years.

Facebook and YouTube are among the country’s most popular sources of information, although they are largely unregulated and largely dominated by trolls. Filipinos spend more than ten hours a day on Facebook, “more than any other nation in the world,” writes the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (“SZ”). Marcos Jr. knows how to use this for himself, recently warned on Facebook about “election manipulation” and called on his supporters to prevent “another theft of the election” and to vote for him.

Marcos Jr. avoided debates with his competitors during the campaign to avoid questions about his family’s past. In the few interviews he gave, he seemed awkward and tense. At the same time, he never publicly distanced himself from his parents’ legacy. He recently described his father as a “statesman, a political genius”.

The real political star in the family, however, is mother Imelda, who can win the hearts of everyone “from the market vendors to the Queen of England”. He unashamedly glorified the Marcos dictatorship as a supposed “golden age” full of prosperity for the country. Younger voters in particular seem to believe him.

“FAZ”: Election will redefine foreign policy

Not only because of the return of the Marcos clan, this year’s presidential election is considered one of the most momentous in recent history. It will also have an impact on foreign policy in the entire region, according to the forecast by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (“FAZ”), as the former Southeast Asian colony plays an important role “in the struggle for spheres of influence between the United States and the People’s Republic of China”. .

The Marcos clan is known for its good relations with China, and 92-year-old Imelda Marcos still receives Chinese officials when they travel to the Philippines. Marcos Jr. announced during the election campaign that he would rely on “engagement” in exchange with China.

Huge crowds at polling stations

In addition to the head of state, thousands of local posts were also re-elected. Even before sunrise, people had been queuing in front of elementary schools and other polling stations on the archipelago to cast their votes. Around 67 million people were called to the polls to choose the successor to controversial President Rodrigo Duterte.

More than 60,000 security forces were deployed to protect the ballot papers and the election workers. “The long lines are great. Filipinos wanted to be heard, and loudly,” said George Garcia of the Electoral Commission.

Due to the large crowds and some delays, the polling stations were allowed to stay open longer, and there were also problems with defective vote counting machines and missing names on voter lists.

People line up in front of the voting booth in Manila

Reuters/Willy Kurniawan

Outgoing President Duterte had declared Monday a high turnout in the run-up to a public holiday

grenade attacks and casualties

Police and military were on constant alert as elections in the Philippines are often overshadowed by violence and allegations of fraud. A few hours before voting began, two polling stations were attacked with grenades in the troubled Maguindanao province of Mindanao.

Marcos Jr. supporters celebrate

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. fans celebrate the dictator’s son’s victory in the presidential election.

Before Marcos Jr. voted alongside his family at an elementary school in the northern city of Batac, the building was combed by bomb-sniffing dogs. Armed groups ranging from communist insurgents to Islamist militants exist on Mindanao in the south of the archipelago. Deadly attacks regularly occur during elections. However, this year’s election campaign was comparatively quiet. According to police, there have been just 16 “confirmed election-related incidents” since January 9 through Sunday, including four gun attacks. There were 133 incidents in the 2016 presidential election.

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