Wednesday, December 26, 2007

When is a democracy not a democracy?

When half the ruling party (and 8 out of 10 recent prime ministers) have inherited their seats:
After the last election, 185 of 480 Diet members (39 percent) were second- or third- (or more) generation politicians ('seshuu seijika'). Of 244 members of the LDP (the ruling party for practically the entire postwar period), 126 (52 percent) are seshuu seijika. Likewise eight of the last 10 prime ministers, and around half the Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda Cabinets. When the average turnover of lawmakers per election is only around 3 percent, you have what can only be termed a political class.
Debito is a bit in-your-face but rarely significantly wrong in his facts, so I see no reason to doubt these figures. I'd be interested to hear of equivalent stats for other countries. I know that in the UK "Fatty" Soames is related to Churchill, for example. And of course the USA has its dynasties of Bushes, Kennedys and Clintons (although perhaps the last ones were both destined for politics before they got together). There's a Mussolini in Italy, but I can't help but think that the fame of these few cases may be a sign of their relative rarity.


Michael Tobis said...

Mayor of Chicago is a hereditary office...

James Annan said...

I think Chuck's comment belonged here...
Chuck said...

In the US, Lincoln Chafee was appionted to fill his fathers Senate seat when John Chafee died, but Chafee Jr. lost re-election in the big Democrat sweep of '06. I think he was a mayor before that.

US Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ, and one of only 3 legislators to have a PhD in a science) had a father who was a senator from West Virginia.

If you wanna wiki all 435 reps to get some statistics, go for it.

Of course we have recently been reminded of the Bhuttos and Ghandis etc...maybe I am wrong, and such cases really are the rule not the exception.

Unknown said...

I think that a typical case of succession in Japan is as follows.

The promotion team of a Member of Parliament has several equally powerful people (local politicians or staff members of the MP's team). When the MP retires (or dies), several of them may want to run for election, but then the team is fragmented and the winnter will be the opposing party.

Not-so-powerful members of the promotion team fear of this consequence, and they want to keep the team united. The only cap that they can silence powerful promoters is a son or daughter of the retiring MP.