People, Power, and Politics Panel
Précarité, possibilités et la post-pandémie
Chair/Président: Alifa Bandali, University of British Columbia
Discussant/Intervenant: Alifa Bandali, University of British Columbia
A growing body of evidence attests that legislators are responsive to the policy preferences of citizens in single-party regimes, yet debate surrounds the mechanisms driving this relationship. We experimentally test two potential responsiveness mechanisms—electoral accountability and upward accountability—by provisioning delegates to the Vietnamese National Assembly (VNA) with information on the policy preferences of their constituents and reminding them of either (1) the competitiveness of the upcoming 2021 elections or (2) a party mandate that legislative activities should reflect constituents' preferences. Consistent with existing work, delegates informed of citizens' preferences are more likely to speak on the parliamentary floor and in closed-session caucuses. Importantly, we find that such responsiveness is entirely driven by the election reminders; the upward accountability reminder has virtually no effect on behaviour.
Using key ideas of classical Frankfurt School Critical Theory, I examine how Asian populist authoritarian regimes, such as the Philippines under its President Rodrigo Duterte, seize the COVID-19 pandemic context for regime maintenance and power consolidation. I demonstrate how the pandemic unravels in the Philippines, highlighting three aspects in the political economy of development to contextualize the State’s response to COVID-19: (1) the pursuit of neoliberal economic policies that charted phenomenal economic growth rates without addressing structural socio-economic inequality; (2) the predisposing conditions of failed political promises, increased opportunities for rent-seeking and corruption, and increasing inequalities under constricted liberal democracies that gave rise to populist authoritarian leaders; and (3) combined forces of neoliberalism and populist authoritarianism, setting the stage for conflictual and contested government and public responses to the pandemic and conveniently merging pre-pandemic imperatives for power consolidation and regime maintenance. I highlight how populist authoritarianism persists during pandemics through three significant connected elements of fear-based ideologies propagated through mass media, the hetero-patriarchal family, and educational system.
This analysis interrogates the ways in which hashtags in the contemporary political milieu of the Philippines have emerged as semiotically productive forms of address and are indexical of political sensibilities and subjectivities. In March of 2021, the sudden increase of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea launched a firestorm of discourses focused on the question of Philippine national sovereignty and the need for the active protection of the EEZ (exclusive economic zone) of the region. In response, the current president of the Philippines delivered a series of speeches addressing the matter, and on 28 April 2021 asserted that: “I’m stating it for the record, we do not want war with China. China is a good friend. Mayroon tayong utang na loob na marami pati ‘yong bakuna natin.” (We owe a great debt of gratitude for the many vaccines). This longstanding position, much to the dismay of many government insiders, academics, and those in the international community, precipitated a massive increase in responses decrying the potential danger of the failure to take a strong stance, from diplomatic protests, official academic statements, statements by foreign governments, and grassroots organizations who took to social media and other fora to express concern, disapproval, and outrage. This analysis will focus on tracing an archaeology of the ways in which the wildly popular hashtag, #DuterteTraydor (traitor), has emerged and circulated on social media in response to the president’s perceived duplicity and weak stance in relation to the recent events in the West Philippine Sea. It will go on to demonstrate the ways that other key hashtags critical of the current regime are generated and flow in online fora in critical ways and often percolate from grassroots stances to officialized ones, becoming part of the ecosystem of discourses and legible political positionalities. In the end, this analysis will explore the ways in which these digital forms of address are generated, circulated, and recognized, and frame them as important social semiotic sites for the generation and negotiation of political subjectivities and stances in fraught and often dangerous political contexts.
CCSEAS Conference 2021 | firstname.lastname@example.org