Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Dynastic Powers In Asian Politics

I guess the headline is pretty clear as to what I am on about. Sure, it happens in other jurisdictions as well, even in developed countries with a heightened sense of democracy. However, it is surely more palpable in Asia. The pictorial by Nikkei Review hits the nail on the proverbial head.

Many people argue that political dynasties affect the legitimacy of democracy and the quality of government policies as dynastic politicians have incentives to implement policies that will increase their advantage and guarantee the perpetuation of power.  Naturally, it is dangerous to generalize as I am sure every dynastic successor will consider theirs as an exception to the rule. That they are deserving to be there.

IF the said country is riddled with weak regulatory institutions, IF the said country has a weak definition of the three independent pillars of governance - the executive, legislative and judicial - then what follows will most likely be patronage, corruption and outsized efforts (sometimes illegal and unfair) to stay in power.

Outsized efforts to stay in power (sometimes illegal and unfair) stems largely from the belief that they do not deserve to be there.

But why is this more prevalent in Asia? Stronger familial values? Is our mindset more tuned to the pervasive influence and privilege attached to 'successful families'?

This is not to say all political family dynasties are inherently poor choices. We have to be careful that new appointees are deserving and elected in a democratic environment. Politics is a tough game. What we have to avoid is political families needing to keep political power going because they have done too many "things that cannot be brought to light". Keeping it in the family or extended family is a sure way to keep the garbage in the bin. Or as they say, they cannot afford to be not re-elected.

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