The latest to join the unlikely league of famous people who want to become prime ministers has been boxing star Manny Pacquiao. Considered by experts as one of the greatest fighters of all time, Pacquiao is the only one in history to have achieved nine world titles in eight different weight classes. At 42, Pacquiao, who announced his retirement from the rings in September, made public his intention to run for the presidency of the Philippines in 2022, representing the Philippine Democratic Party-People’s Power (PDP-Laban). It is the same formation to which the current President of the Government of the country, Rodrigo Duterte, belongs, who will thus become his rival. Although he cannot be re-elected president, Duterte remains the favorite and it is rumored that he could stay in power by indirectly running for office, with his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio as a candidate for the presidency.
“In my life I backed down from a fight,” Pacquiao clarified in the speech announcing his candidacy. “For those who wonder what my merits are, have you ever experienced not having anything to eat?” His story inspires many Filipinos because not only did he get out of poverty … but he is now a billionaire.
Last April, another celebrity, in this case Caitlyn Jenner, former Olympic athlete and television figure who is a member of the reality television Keeping Up with the Kardashians, announced her candidacy as a candidate for governor of California. And just a month ago rumors reignited that actor Matthew McConaughey could run for governor of Texas. “I am aggressively centrist,” he told Los Angeles Times.
Many are the famous ones who ambition to enter politics. Some with success, despite lack of experience. Others, reaping resounding failures, such as rapper Kanye West and his unprecedented and short-lived run for the White House. Among the most memorable successes is that of Ilona Staller, that erotic myth of the eighties and nineties, known for acting in porn films under the stage name of Cicciolina, who managed to be a deputy for the Italian Radical Party. Equally peculiar was the case of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who went from being an icon in Hollywood action films to governor of California between 2003 and 2011, following in the footsteps of his (political) idol Ronald Reagan, who was a mediocre actor and later president of USA and one of the key figures to understand politics in the eighties.
In Spain there are also cases. One of the most recent has been that of the actor Toni Cantó, who has paraded for political parties such as UPyD, Ciudadanos and the Popular Party.
Pacquiao’s trajectory is different because he has been in politics since 2010, when he entered as a congressman, being appointed senator in 2016. In those years he was an ally of Duterte, until this spring the discrepancies began. Pacquiao criticized the president for failing to confront China regarding the intimidating presence of 220 military vessels on the Whitsun reef, over which the Philippines has an exclusive right to exploit and conserve resources. He later accused him of promoting corruption in the country. Now he is your opponent. The boxer, a convert to Christianity in 2012, frequently uses the Bible to justify his defense of the death penalty and his opposition to divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage. For his part, Duterte is being investigated for crimes against humanity for the deaths of thousands of people, including children, in his “war on drugs.”