A few months back the Philippines elected a Populist nut job, Rodrigo Duterte, as their President. A man described as “Asia’s Donald Trump”. So how has that worked out?
Well the current estimate is that 2,500 have been killed by vigilante’s and police in a supposed anti-drug crack down. Will this get drugs off the street? For a while perhaps, then (if events in Mexico are anything to go by) many of these vigilante’s will be in the drug trade themselves. So long as there’s a market for drugs someone will try to sell them. You are better off tackling the social problems that promotes this drug addiction, as some European countries have successfully managed to do.
On the international stage, Duterte embarrassed himself at a recent summit. Obama cancelled a meeting with him and other leaders more or less gave Duterte the cold shoulder. Pissing off the Americans is a bad idea for the Philippines, as they are (or were) backing them up in a dispute with China over the South China sea, where the Chinese have been building artificial Islands to reinforce its claim to large areas of sea (that might contain oil or gas reserves).
Oddly enough, despite a favourable recent ruling, Duterte seems to be unworried by any withdrawal of American support. Indeed he seems to be increasingly favourable to the Chinese. Leading some to wonder if he’s just a shill for the Chinese (literally a Manchurian candidate).
So what’s the economy been doing? Foreign investors are already withdrawing their money and making their way towards the exits, the country seems will on its way to becoming another basket case. And recall, he’s only been in the post about a month. What’s it going to look like after 4 years? My guess is we’ll never find out. The Philippines has a history of military coup’s and I’m guessing we’re now just months or a year or two away from another one.
In short, Duterte shows everything that is wrong with electing populist leaders into government. No matter how bad you think Cameron, Blair, Clegg or Hillary might be, trust me there are people ten times worse.