Southeast Asia’s Troubling Elections: Is There a Silver Lining?

Issue Date October 2019
Volume 30
Issue 4
Page Numbers 149-157
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In elections held in early 2019, Southeast Asia’s already bleak democratic prospects appeared to grow even more dismal. In Thailand, polls merely put a civilian face on military-monarchical rule. In Indonesia, President Joko Widodo’s reelection came after concessions to hard-line Islamists. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte’s candidates dominated the midterms, advancing his punitive agenda. But as is often the case with elections in illiberal contexts, there were democratic silver linings with the emergence of a broad-based opposition coalition in Thailand, a pluralist backlash against extremism in Indonesia, and, in the Philippines, growing criticism of Duterte’s handling of territorial disputes with China as he struggles with a swollen, fractious ruling coalition.

About the Author

Mark R. Thompson is professor of politics at City University of Hong Kong.

View all work by Mark R. Thompson