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Photo: “170511 ASEAN Business Dialogue 3234“, by Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Rüland, Jürgen. “Democratic backsliding, regional governance and foreign policymaking in Southeast Asia: ASEAN, Indonesia and the Philippines.” Democratization (2020): 1-21.


This article examines democratic backsliding in the spheres of regional cooperation and foreign policymaking in Southeast Asia. It argues that backsliding is limited because the space for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its member states to promote democracy has always been strongly curtailed by ideational path dependencies. These include an autocratic type of regional corporatism and the ASEAN Way as the region’s established repository of cooperation norms. While ASEAN has thus largely failed to become more inclusive, democracy promotion policies of the grouping’s democratically most advanced member states, Indonesia and the Philippines, are more ambiguous. Despite eroding democratic practices at home, democracy is still a pillar of Indonesia’s foreign policy. By contrast, in the Philippines, the incumbent Duterte presidency increasingly securitizes foreign policy, relegating democracy to a backseat.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.