Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son and political heir of the deposed Philippine dictator, is set to become the country’s next president. With more than 90% of the votes counted this Monday (09/05), he surpassed the almost 27.5 million votes needed to guarantee the majority, with more than double the vote received by his opponent, the liberal Leni. Robredo.
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This was the first majority election victory since the 1986 revolution that resulted in the overthrow of his father, Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the country with an iron fist for two decades. The result marks the return of the Marcos family to power, 36 years after a humiliating flight into exile.
With 93.8% of valid ballots cleared, Marcos Jr. – nicknamed Bongbong – garnered 29.9 million votes, according to the Elections Commission’s unofficial count. Turnout reached 80%. The official result, however, may take weeks, and should be released at the end of this month.
Supporters of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. celebrate election results in Mandaluyong, Philippines, on May 9, 2022 — Photo: Eloisa Lopez/Reuters
The other eight candidates — including former boxer Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, and former national police chief and now senator Panfilo Lacson — fell far short of the electorate.
Despite the embarrassment after the ouster, the Marcos family returned to the Philippines in the 1990s, and remained a powerful political force in the country, maintaining its influence through its vast wealth and wide network of connections.
Campaign based on social networks
Marcos Jr., 64, has served as a senator, congressman and senator. His sister Imee is currently a senator, and her mother, Imelda Marcos – a controversial and highly influential figure in her husband’s government – served four parliamentary terms. The son of the new president and grandson of the former dictator, Ferdinand Alexander, is expected to be elected to a seat in Congress.
During the campaign, Bongbong did not present a clear political platform, espousing a simple and ambiguous message of unity. Analysts say his six-year term at the helm of the Philippine government is expected to be marked by the continuity of his predecessor, the authoritarian Rodrigo Duterte, whose image as a “strong man” proved popular and helped to quickly consolidate him in power.
Mark Jr. it should complete the multibillion-dollar infrastructure program initiated by Duterte and seek closer ties with China. Critics fear that the problems of corruption and nepotism that plague the country could worsen during his rule.
A great asset in his campaign was to appoint the daughter of the current president, Sara Duterte-Carpio, as his vice-president, guaranteeing the support of her father and, at the same time, opening the way to reach other electoral territories.
The partial results of the polls indicate that Duterte-Carpio would have received triple the votes of his closest opponent, in an electoral system where the vice president is elected separately.
Mark Jr. was criticized for not attending debates, in addition to having few media appearances during the campaign, which allowed him to avoid public exposure and control his message through a network of digital influencers and bloggers.
The election results in the Philippines reveal the enormous impact of a sophisticated social media operation targeting young people born after the revolution that ousted Marcos from power, as well as a proliferation of misleading information about the dictatorship’s historical record, including the controversial Martial Law imposed by the dictatorial regime.
Those responsible for the winning campaign, however, deny that there was any dissemination of disinformation.
Luxury and ostentation in the midst of poverty
The Marcos family has been noted for maintaining a luxurious and ostentatious standard of living, while denying several allegations that it had embezzled billions of dollars in public money, during what many historians consider one of the largest kleptocracies ever to exist in Asia.
Imelda Marcos became world famous for having collected 3,000 pairs of shoes, as well as expensive dresses and 175 priceless works of art. This, in a country with a population that lived largely in poverty, with the government using truculence to stay in power, until a popular uprising forced the family to flee the country.
Most of Marcos Jr.’s supporters. considers these historical records to be only lies spread by his opponents.