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date: 28 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Based on a strict interpretation of the ideological definition of populism, this chapter argues that populist politicians are a rare breed in the electoral democracies of Northeast and Southeast Asia. In fact, multiparty politics have only thrown up three true cases of populism in the past: Joseph Estrada in the Philippines, Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand, and Prabowo Subianto in Indonesia. Through the analytical framework of discursive institutionalism, the chapter explains the general absence of populist politicians by highlighting the distinctiveness of East Asia as an ideological setting. Specifically, the ideational context that is East Asia does not provide broader frameworks that would allow politicians to draw a moral distinction between “the people” and “the elite” in ways that are meaningful to voters.

Keywords: populism, democracy, elections, ideology, Joseph Estrada, Thaksin Shinawatra, Prabowo Subianto, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia

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