Dynasty dynastic dynastic

A family of rulers. Often applied to Egyptian history which is conventionally punctuated by the succession of dynasties.

The political scientist is interested by the fact that in modern politics the succession by sons or daughters is still common, even in apparent democracies, suggesting that some of these are concealed monarchies. There is a danger that dynastic succession will have the same effect as in formal monarchies - the appointment of incompetent rulers, relying on the family name rather than ability. In a genuine democracy the hope must be that people of ability will rise to the top position.

  • In India the family of Nehru ruled almost continuously from Independence until the assassination of his grandson, Rajiv, who had himself inherited the post from his assassinated mother. Rajiv's widow remains head of the Congress party and daughters and an incompetent son are rising in the hierarchy.
  • In Pakistan the late Benazir Bhutto a former Prime Minister was the daughter of a former executed president.
  • Similar political dynasties are found in Bangladesh and
  • Sri Lanka.
  • In North Korea the Communist ruler Kim Il Sung handed power on to his son Kim Jong Il, and he seems to have handed it on to his son Kim Jong Un (who certainly looks incompetent).
  • In Romania President Ceausescu appointed members of his family to numerous state positions.
  • Several Middle East regimes are also dynastic, including Iraq (until the overthrow of Saddam Hussein) and
  • Syria, as well as the obvious monarchies. In Syria the Assad family managed to hand over to Bashar a son of the first dictator (but he seems likely to be overthrown in 2012).
  • Libya under Gaddafi was developing that way, with various sons of Gaddafi apparently being groomed for power, until the 2011 Revolution.
  • Egypt under Mubarak showed the signs too. He was apparently preparing to have a son "elected" to succeed him
  • Iran's Shah was the son of an army officer who seized power and declared himself Shah
  • In the United States the prominence of the Kennedys and the Bushes suggests a hankering after dynasty, but the political process may be strong enough to prevent the formation of a monarchy. In the US there have been a number of important political families, including the Adams and the Roosevelts. At present the Bush family, the Clintons, Gores as well as the Kennedys are families who are elected rather often. In Britain on the other hand there have been no dynastic Prime Ministers since the time of the Pitts. But several have been closely related through intermarriage: Harold Macmillan; Sir Alec Home.
  • Antigua is also an example of dynastic state with the forms of a democracy.
  • Perhaps the Hashemites are the greatest of the lot (see Islam).

    Some other countries with political families:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Congo (Kabila)
  • Greece (Karamanlis and Papandreou)
  • Kenya (Kenyatta and Odinga) Philippines (Macapagal)
  • Singapore is also a concealed monarchy as its first prime minister has passed the office on to his son.

Last revised 3/04/12


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