Briefly, On Political Dynasty

Both our studies on election-related violence and political party performance and stability point to problems and complications of political dynasty. Warlordistic political dynasties are found to be one of the strongest enabling factors for election-related violence due to breakdown of accountability in a situation of political monopoly. Meanwhile, political families have become the main vehicle to secure public posts because of weak political parties. Political parties become mere procedural requirement used by political families to be in power, consequently preventing the development of internal democratic processes in political parties.

I thought it is interesting to delve on our perspective on what political dynasty is and what it is not.

There are good dynasties, then there are families in politics perceived as dynasties but are not.

Our premise why dynasties are problematic in democracy is it undermines accountability since decisions that affect the public are made in private sphere (the family). Hence, our working definition of political dynasty is it exists when members of a (nuclear) family occupies seats that have direct mandate to check and balance each other and have legal authority over other means of accountability. It is a state of political monopoly that cancels out checks and balance mechanisms.

This scenario of political monopoly, we can find mostly at the local government unit level, but hardly at the national government level because of the sheer scope of the latter's power and mandate and because no seat at the national, except perhaps the presidency, has power over other means of accountability. There could be attempt to have a semblance of it at the national level, when key posts that are supposed to check and balance each other are occupied by members of the same family; but, with many other accountability checks, it would be difficult to establish political dynasty that leads to accountability breakdown. The most feasible political monopoly that can be established at the national level is at an agency or a single government body level where seats in one Department or say, Senate, critical to accountability, are occupied by one nuclear family.

This definition requires further operationalization, which is a pre-requisite in coming up with legal regulatory measures. But factoring in accountability breakdown in defining political dynasty for us is a step forward for decision-makers and the people to realize why political dynasty needs to be regulated.

We hope to be able to work with policy-makers in the coming days to frame an anti-political dynasty law following this perspective.