Monday, December 31, 2007

Dynastic parties

In many other parts of the world, political parties are little more than movements based around a particular individual.

For example, the ruling One Russia party is nothing more than a vehicle for that country's strongman. The party doesn't really stand for anything other than the cult of Vladimir Putin. In Guinea, the three main parties have had the same leaders since the charade of democracy was introduced 15 years ago.

In western countries, political parties are generally associated with a particular ideology. As such, they are institutions capable of renewing themselves when a particular leader leaves the scene.

In places where parties are personality cults, this is much more difficult. Either the "party" falls apart or it becomes something like a monarchy.

This has become fairly common in de facto one party states: dead dictators replaced by their sons. Syria's Assad was succeeded by his son. Togo's Eyadema was succeeded by his. Egypt's Mubarak has declared his son as heir apparent.

But even in countries that aren't monarchical republics, parties aren't immune to such tendencies.

Take the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of the assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, which appears little more than a vehicle for that family.

In the 40 years of the PPP's existence, the "party" has only had four leaders:

-Benazir Bhutto's father (who was hanged and replaced by...)
-Benazir Bhutto's mother (who was ill and replaced by...)
-Benazir Bhutto herself (who was assassinated and replaced by...)
-Benazir Bhutto's husband and son (who is 19 years old)

In this mass movement with supposed widespread popular support, the only person within their ranks they could find deemed qualified to lead the party was a 19-year old boy studying in London and who's barely spent any time actually living in Pakistan.


Anonymous said...

"Bhutto" is a brand name in Pakistani politics, sorta like Coca-Cola in the West. It sells well, no matter how inexperienced the bearer of the name.
And speaking of dynasties, let's see how well Hillary does in the next few months...

Mark said...

Last note was by me, sorry!