The World Today for February 14, 2022


All in the Family


America produced the Adams, Bush, Clinton and other political dynasties. Now leaders in Asia are seeking to do the same.

“The prevalence of dynasties reflects the great power that individual families wield in a fast-growing region of the world that is nonetheless marked by high levels of income inequality and state repression,” wrote the Wall Street Journal, noting that political families are “an obstacle to good governance.”

In the Philippines, for example, frontrunners in the race to become president and vice president in elections later this year are the children of the archipelago’s ousted dictator and its current authoritarian president.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is the namesake son of the man who left office after peaceful protests in the 1980s, Reuters reported. He has sought to resuscitate his family’s name, denying that his parents stole $10 billion while in power or carried out extrajudicial killings, torture and other human rights violations. His late father died in exile in Hawaii. His 92-year-old mother, Imelda, who famously kept thousands of shoes while many Filipinos went barefoot, has been using her political contacts to support her son.

Meanwhile, Sara Duterte, the daughter of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte, who can’t run for reelection, is Marcos’ running mate for vice president, explained Nikkei Asia. She recently called for mandatory military service, a policy her father has long championed but failed to achieve, noted CNN Philippines.

Opposing them is Leni Robredo, who has pledged to end the kleptocracy that runs the country, wrote VICE.

In an analysis, the Rappler, a respected local English-language news website, noted that Duterte promoted a strongman image that helped pave the way for Marcos’ return. Ironically, his mother, Soledad, was an outspoken opponent of Marcos’ regime.

The Philippines is not alone. In Indonesia, the son and son-in-law of President Joko Widodo have become mayors, putting them in positions where they might succeed their elder when he decides to pass the torch to a younger generation, according to Foreign Policy magazine. It was the first time two family members of a president won local elections.

In Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen recently tapped his son, Hun Manet, to succeed him, the Diplomat reported. Sen has been premier since 1985. In making his announcement, he said he was following in the footsteps of Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese prime minister, whose father was a foreign minister and whose grandfather was a prime minister.

Letting go of power, it seems, is much easier when you keep it in the family.

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