Beyond Demagogues and Deplorables: Democratizing Populist Rhetoric in Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines

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Challenging the usual theoretical dichotomy between populism and deliberative democracy, Chapter 11 offers conceptual, methodological, and empirical observations regarding Rodrigo Duterte’s populist rise in the Philippines that incorporates insights from both theories of populism and of deliberative democracy. For many observers, Duterte’s rise has signaled the legitimization of divisive, vulgar, and plainly murderous rhetoric in one of Asia’s oldest democracies. Such observers also often regard populism as a top-down, manipulative, and homogenously spiteful rhetoric, not noting the contingent and dynamic character of populist claim-making from below. This chapter argues that ethnographic research on what it calls “populist publics” open a discussion on possible spaces for the democratization of populist claims. Methodologically, the chapter proposes shifting our gaze from the populist leader to the relationship he or she negotiates with the public. As such, it builds on this volume’s conception of populism as fundamentally relational. Regarding Duterte’s populist appeal, it concludes that while it invigorated the voices of those who have long been left out of politics, it also created its own voice-denying (and life-denying!) rationalities that further excluded not the elites, but the most vulnerable communities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPopulism in Global Perspective
Subtitle of host publicationA Performative and Discursive Approach
EditorsPierre Ostiguy, Francisco Panizza, Benjamin Moffitt
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781003110149
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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