Feature

Asia: A dynasty is not a democracy

If Asian countries don’t “broaden and deepen the gene pools of their political elites,” they risk “falling back into corruption,” said Rowan Callick in The Australian.

Rowan CallickThe Australian

Politics in Asia is a family affair, said Rowan Callick. The region has been democratizing over the past two or three decades, as it sheds dictators and embraces elections, “but the process has got stuck.” All too often, the candidates are relatives of one another.

In the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, son of former President Corazon Aquino, is president; he took over from Gloria Arroyo, whose father had also been president. Meanwhile, “a distastefully growing number of descendants and relatives of Ferdinand Marcos” sit in the Philippine Congress. In Indonesia, founding father Sukarno’s daughter Megawati “has already had a spin as president,” and it’s widely expected that the current president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who can’t run for another term, will be succeeded by his wife and then one of their sons. And now in Thailand, the youngest sister of fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been tapped to run for president.

Some may argue that these dynasties are successful—after all, Asian living standards have soared, and their societies are stable. But if Asian countries don’t “broaden and deepen the gene pools of their political elites,” they risk “falling back into corruption.”

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