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Half of this duo is Ferdinand Marcos Jr. If the name means anything to you, it’s because he’s the son of the late dictator who ruled the Philippines with an iron fist for 21 years. Elder Marcos and his famous shoe-obsessed wife Imelda are said to have looted as much as $ 10 billion from state coffers before being ousted from power – and the country – by the People Power revolution “from 1986.

Aries Arugay, professor of political science at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, says Marcos’ presidential candidacy is the culmination of his family’s decades-long quest to regain power after narrowly losing the race for power. vice-presidency in 2016.

The other half is none other than the vice-president, Sara Duterte. Yes this The name rings a bell, that’s because she’s the daughter of Rodrigo, the current president with her own aspiring dictator vibes.

Duterte’s scion followed his father’s 2016 electoral playbook: tease a presidential candidacy, turn it down to remain mayor of your hometown, and finally change your mind at the eleventh hour to submit your candidacy “to reluctantly “because you just can’t disappoint your fans. And don’t forget to add family drama too.

Right now, the Marcos-Duterte tandem looks like it can easily get away with the elections. With the president’s daughter by his side, Marcos is now clearly the favorite, with an impressive poll rate of 47%. The couple also face weak opposition at the moment from boxer-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao and Leni Robredo, the knowledgeable but low-key vice president.

Part of the twist here is that the Filipino electoral system for the president is twisted: it’s a one-round contest in which whoever gets a plurality wins. Presidents were elected with barely a quarter of the vote. Candidates often only need to lock down one or two voice-rich regions outside of Manila, as both Marcos and Duterte can, to secure victory.

Moreover, the Marcos-Duterte campaign dominates social media – a silver bullet in a country plagued by online disinformation and fake news, where nearly half of the population gets their news from Facebook. And guess who Facebook helped win last time around?

Rodrigo Duterte himself, who has become an unexpected thorn in the side of Marcos and young Duterte. Until the last minute, senior limited-term Duterte flirted with running for vice president, even versus Sara, but ultimately decided to run for a Senate seat straight off the buzzer.

Perhaps upset that his daughter had ignored his advice to land the top post, Duterte now backs another candidate instead of his ally Marcos, with his daughter as vice president (Philippines elects presidents and vice presidents separately).

Arugay says not having a single ticket is a problem for Duterte and Marcos. On the one hand, it will divide the pro-Duterte vote, not to mention confusing voters. On the other hand, Marcos will have to walk on eggshells with the notoriously thin-skinned president as the Supreme Court, which could hear a disqualification case against Marcos for tax evasion, is full of people named by Duterte.

What is all this so bad for the Philippine democracy? For Arugay, this election is a “new low”. It turned the presidential vote into an “everything in the family” affair because dynasties rather than parties determined the candidates.

When political parties are created overnight and can implode just as quickly, elections are just popularity contests. Without a solid debate on ideas and policies, the country’s many problems will never be resolved.

Unfortunately, as long as those with the power to reform the Philippine political system are the same politicians who cause the problems in the first place, any hope of progress remains very remote.

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