Words of nostalgia: How do citizens praise a fallen dictator?

Work in Progress

Why do people feel nostalgic for a former dictatorship? And through what means is authoritarian nostalgia delivered, circulated, and accepted to and by the mass? Democratic transition brings an end to an authoritarian regime, but it can also mark a beginning of authoritarian legacies in the new regime. Nostalgic rhetoric for the fallen regime still shapes voters’ attitudes and related behavior in many post-authoritarian democracies. In this project, we study what sort of messages are positively associated with nostalgic sentiments by examining digital trace data from Twitter in the case of the Philippines presidential election scheduled in May 2022. While the fall of Marcos dictatorship in 1986 established democratic transition in the Philippines, the legacies of the former dictatorship remain through authoritarian successors and family networks. The country’s democracy will face another test as Bongbong Marcos (BBM), son of Ferdinand Marcos, has been leading opinion polls for the upcoming election. Combined with his nostalgic rhetoric for his father and extensive use of online campaigning, the Philippine election provides an ample empirical ground to study how individual voters reference the former dictatorship and which nostalgic messages are favored more in support for an authoritarian successor.

Sanghoon Kim-Leffingwell
Sanghoon Kim-Leffingwell
Senior Lecturer and Program Coordinator