Democracy beyond legitimate coercion: Deadly use of force by the police in the Philippines and Brazil

This project investi­gates state coercion in the form of deadly police violence in times of domestic peace in two demo­cracies of the Global South. With Rodrigo Duterte and Jair Bolsonaro, populists came to power in both countries, giving the police a free hand in com­bating drug-related crime. But even before that, both countries stood out within their regions due to high levels of police vio­lence.

The project exa­mines the relation­ship between deadly police violence on the one hand and the violent attitudes of poli­ticians and the general popu­lation on the other. Most of the research on exces­sive police violence is attributed either to charac­teristics of the environ­ment in which police­men serve or to deficits of the police as an organi­zation, to deficits of the organi­zational culture or to specific strategies for preventing or combating crime. Instead, this project focuses on the role of public opinion and a corres­ponding populism of political elites who expect a tough stance to be advan­tageous in elections as factors for explaining the use of deadly police violence with varying degrees of fre­quency – both between and within states.

The aim of the project, for which third-party funding will be raised, is to collect accurate data on the extent of lethal police violence in Brazil and the Philip­pines for at least a decade. This frame­work will not only provide accurate infor­mation on differen­ces between states and provinces, but also reveal changes over time at the national and sub-national levels. Through intensive field research in several sub­national units, differences in the local perception of crime by the population and the local elites as well as the attitude patterns of the local police leader­ship and their de jure and de facto depen­dence on the local political leader­ship are worked out. On that basis, the logics under­lying the police use of lethal force are recon­structed – in phases of "normality" without a centrally orches­trated campaign against crime and in phases of central political excess.

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Der autoritäre Patron, der liefert? | 2020

Kreuzer, Peter (2020): Der autoritäre Patron, der liefert? Weiterhin breite Unterstützung für Präsident Duterte in den Philippinen, PRIF Spotlight 5/2020, Frankfurt/M.

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A patron-strongman who delivers | 2020

Kreuzer, Peter (2020): A patron-strongman who delivers. Explaining enduring public support for President Duterte in the Philippines, PRIF Report 1/2020, Frankfurt/M.

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Duterte’s war against drugs in the Philippines: Continuity and change | 2019

Kreuzer, Peter (2019): Duterte’s war against drugs in the Philippines: Continuity and change, PRIF BLOG, 14.3.2019.

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Populism, executive assertiveness and popular support for strongman-democracy in the Philippines | 2019

Kreuzer, Peter (2019): Populism, executive assertiveness and popular support for strongman-democracy in the Philippines, PRIF BLOG, 17.1.2019.

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Excessive Use of Deadly Force by Police in the Philippines Before Duterte | 2018

Kreuzer, Peter (2018): Excessive Use of Deadly Force by Police in the Philippines Before Duterte, in: Journal of Contemporary Asia, Published online: May 2018, DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2018.1471155.

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The Philippines after one year under Duterte | 2017

Kreuzer, Peter (2017): The Philippines after one year under Duterte. Still majority support for killing suspected criminals, PRIF Blog, 30.6.2017.

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"If they resist, kill them all": Police Vigilantism in the Philippines | 2016

Kreuzer, Peter (2016): "If they resist, kill them all": Police Vigilantism in the Philippines, PRIF Report No. 142, Frankfurt/M.

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