Populism in Southeast Asia: A Vehicle for Reform or a Tool for Despots?

  • Richard RobisonEmail author
  • Vedi R. Hadiz
Part of the Studies in the Political Economy of Public Policy book series (PEPP)


This chapter explains the rise of populist politics and why it takes different forms in Southeast Asia – specifically in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. We see populism as an integral part of larger conflicts over power and wealth that accompany the advance of global capitalism. The failure of governments and elites to deal with structural crises confronting their societies provides the circumstances in which populism can emerge. Populist movements are shaped by different forces and interests operating within cross-class alliances in particular contexts. This explains why populism can sometimes be a vehicle for long-supressed popular demands for the redistribution of wealth and social justice and, elsewhere, effectively protect the interests of established oligarchies by diverting such demands into a politics of identity and culture.


Populism Political economy Southeast Asia Indonesia Philippines Thailand 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Asia InstituteUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Asia InstituteUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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