A Look at Political Dynasties

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A Look at Political Dynasties

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau/ Photo By Mykhaylo Palinchak via 123RF


For the past decades in many countries, especially those with democracies, people have seen the spectacle of candidates filing for elective posts, a lot of them having surnames or family names that are familiar because they are either the same people running for another position or they are relatives of those who are already in government positions. This is the case of what is known as political dynasties, which is a regular fixture in some nations, such as Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. 

According to an article by the Wonderpolis, the word “dynasty” is a Latin word that means power, rule, dominion, and ability. Political dynasties are rampant around the world and usually, exist within monarchial or feudal political systems. They were already present even centuries back. In fact, the first Chinese dynasty dated back to the 21st century B.C. Although this should be a thing in the distant past, political dynasties still exist today in many countries around the world. 

As years passed, political dynasties have become a norm in many societies. They are mostly elected by popular vote and function differently from monarchies and dictatorships. Let's examine the prevalence of political dynasties and their impact around the world.

Prevalence of Political Dynasties Around the World

Being a political leader means that you're responsible for the overall growth and success of your nation. You should have the capability to address all the issues that concern your constituents’ livelihood, education, healthcare, and many more. In some countries, coming from a political family can be easier for an aspiring politician to enter government. A recent study published in the journal Historical Social Research showed that one of 10 world leaders comes from families with political ties. 

The research defined "political family" as having a family or spouse who is involved in politics. They can be a party official, judge, lawmaker, activist, bureaucrat, or president. Some of the popular examples are former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and former US President George W. Bush.

After examining the backgrounds of 1,029 political executives in several countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa from 2000 to 2017, the researchers found out that 12% of all world leaders actually belonged to a political family. 

Former US President George W. Bush/ Photo By Visions Of America LLC via 123RF


According to an article by Phys.org, this shows being a member of families in politics is an advantage when seeking political posts compared to candidates who have no political ties. The former benefits through their family's political recognition, name recognition, and better access to resources and allies when running for a position. For instance, Bush and Trudeau, whose fathers had previously served in the same position, were democratically elected executives who have direct ties to those offices. 

The study also showed significant findings of women in political dynasties. The researchers discovered some interesting insights into how women got into the male-dominated business of politics. Out of the 1,029 political executives involved in the study, only 66 were women. Some of them include President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Liberia's Nobel Peace Prize-winning Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. 

The findings also found that out of 66 female executives, 19 had families with political ties while there were only 100 of the 963 men came from political dynasties. This suggested that family ties are particularly more important for women to get into politics and that women who attain the highest office are more likely part of a political family. It helps women who are running in office to establish their credibility to everyone. Additionally, the study revealed that the link of leaders in political dynasties to enter politics is a male relative. 

Impact of Political Dynasties

The presence of political dynasties has been in the political system in many countries for a long time now. Unfortunately, it has continued to expand in recent times. Although coming from a family of politicians can help the candidates become more known to voters, political dynasties have become a door for incompetent leaders to be elected. 

However, there are some cases where elected officials who came from a political family wasn't the primary reason they won. For instance, according to an article by the BusinessWorld, Senators Edward Kennedy and John McCain were elected because of their own effectiveness and outstanding abilities as political leaders. But these are mere exceptions. In some countries like the Philippines, electing candidates on the sole basis that they came from political families have proved detrimental on the economy and society in general. 

Some political dynasties used their positions to misuse public funds and steal a very large sum of the people's money. It has been known that they accumulate these funds so they can run again or let their relatives run for a position and retain their family’s political power. Clearly, political dynasties exploit the poverty of people.



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