Son of Philippine dictator takes big lead

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An unofficial vote count in the Philippines presidential election shows a huge early lead for Ferdinand Marcos Junior, the son and namesake of the notorious late dictator who ruled the country for 20 years.

Marcos had 15.3 million votes, more than double the number those of his nearest rival, Vice President Leni Robredo, with 46.9 per cent the number of eligible ballots counted, according to an unofficial count by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) .

The big early lead raises the prospect of a once unthinkable return to rule of the Marcos family, 36 years after its patriarch's overthrow in a "people power" revolution and his family's humiliating retreat into exile.

It closely tracks the outcome of all opinion polls this year, which showed Marcos, a former senator and congressman, with a huge advantage over Robredo, who is allied with the movement that toppled the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.

Despite its fall from grace, the Marcos family returned from exile in the 1990s and has since been a powerful force in politics, retaining its influence with vast wealth and far-reaching connections.

The vote was also a chance for Marcos to avenge his loss to Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential election, a narrow defeat by just 200,000 votes that he sought unsuccessfully to overturn.

Marcos has presented no real policy platform but his presidency is expected to provide continuity from outgoing leader Rodrigo Duterte, whose ruthless, strongman approach proved popular and helped him to consolidate power rapidly.

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