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Southeast Asia’s democracy woes accelerate

12 2 0
27.06.2021

In the past decade, democracy in Southeast Asia has suffered enormous setbacks, with the exception of tiny Timor-Leste.

Countries from the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar to Thailand and Malaysia have regressed from robust democracies or hybrid regimes — essentially semidemocracies — to outright authoritarian rule or to situations in which elections are still held but democratic institutions are deteriorating.

Unfortunately, in the next year, the region’s prospects for democracy look likely to get even worse. Myanmar has captured many of the global headlines. Although not a democracy before Feb. 1, it was at least a country with relatively free and fair elections, and was building some democratic institutions and norms.

Now, it has been taken over in a retrograde military coup and is disintegrating into a battleground and failed state. The prospect of democratic revival in Myanmar, or even any semblance of stability, seems hard to imagine any time soon.

Yet other regional states, while not as unsettled as Myanmar, also look likely to backslide in the remainder of 2021 and into 2022. In the Philippines, the presidential election next year could potentially bring to power Sara Duterte, mayor of the southern city of Davao and daughter of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte. She remains the front-runner in polls.

Were she to win, Sara Duterte would likely solidify the anti-democratic measures taken by her father in his presidential term, including........

© The Japan Times


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