Global Populism: A Lineage of Filipino Strongmen from Quezon to Marcos and Duterte

  • Alfred W. McCoy


The rising global phenomenon of populism has been framed as a reaction to the unmet promises of globalization in nominally democratic nations. Rodrigo Duterte has similarly been positioned along this trend. This article traces the lineage of Filipino strongmen from Quezon to Marcos and Duterte and shows that they emerged through juxtaposition of skilled diplomacy and local controls. This situates Duterte at an intersection of global trends and local political tradition, beyond the flat application of the term populism to the Philippines. Studying these Filipino strongmen reveals the role of performative violence in projecting domestic strength and a complementary need for diplomatic success to demonstrate international influence. These overlooked aspects of global populism can be used to speculate about the political fate of populist strongmen in disparate corners of the globe.


Manuel Quezon; Ferdinand Marcos; Rodrigo Duterte; populism; strongmen