WHEN Rodrigo Duterte first announced his presidential candidacy in November, he seemed a long shot. He had been the controversial mayor of Davao, the biggest city in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, for over 20 years. Just five months before he entered the presidential race Human Rights Watch linked him to vigilante killings of suspected criminals. Voters had never elected a president from Mindanao, or one who had never previously held national office. But on the evening of May 9th, with three-fifths of all votes counted, Mr Duterte held a 17-point lead over his closest challenger. A Duterte presidency looks on the cards, and it will come as quite a shock.
Politics in the Philippines has always revolved around personality more than policy. It is something that Mar Roxas, running a distant second to Mr Duterte, never quite grasped. A worthy scion of a political family (his grandfather had been president) and a former member of the cabinet of the outgoing president, Benigno Aquino, Mr Roxas spent the campaign touting the Philippines’ undoubted success in generating economic growth. Under Mr Aquino, the country was South-East Asia’s fastest-growing economy, with an annual average growth of almost 6%. But Mr Roxas proved a hapless campaigner. Filipinos expect their presidents to “eat with their hands”, while Mr Roxas always seemed to be hunting about for his silver spoon.