Ferdinand Marcos Jr held a wide lead in the tally of votes in the Philippines presidential election with more than 70 percent of eligible ballots counted, unofficial data from the poll body showed.
Marcos had more than 23.5 million, far ahead of his closest challenger, current Vice President Leni Robredo, a champion of human rights, who had 11.1 million, according to a live unofficial count by the poll body on Monday.
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 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 approach proved popular and helped him to consolidate power rapidly.
Robredo, a 57-year-old lawyer and economist, had promised to clean up the dirty style of politics that has long plagued the feudal and corrupt democracy, where a handful of surnames hold sway.
Hundreds of thousands of red-clad supporters turned out at Marcos and Duterte’s raucous rally in Manila on Saturday, as they made a last push for votes.