It’s an iconic 1980s song, played in the stereo systems of many a nerdy college kid over the past decades. Along with Hanif Kureishi’s work, apprently it’s among the best commentary on the Thatcher era England. It was also one of the themes of this classic Aaron Spelling drama. And now, it seems to be a great commentary on Bangladeshi political scene. Reading the Economist’s recent editorial and news story on Bangladesh, I kept recalling Morrissey’s matter-of-fact statement: when you say it’s gonna happen “now”, well, when exactly do you mean? see I’ve already waited too long, and all my hope is gone.
No, not the 1980s TV show. That’s just to increase my google hit. This post is really about dynastic politics that pervades Bangladesh. In fact, not just Bangladesh but many other similar (and not-too-similar) countries. Ask any Bangladeshi pundit (or not-so-pundit-but-bhadralok-type) and you’ll hear the evils of dynastic politics. Many a people in (not to mention supporting) the 1/11 regime were sincere in their desire to improve matters by eliminating the key dynasties from politics.
And yet, political dynasties, both at national and local level, prevails. Voters regularly (though not always) vote dynastic scions.
Over the fold, I provide a rudimentary theory of dynastic politics. I think this quick-and-dirty theorising has considerable explanatory power. Further, the theory can actually make some normative claims about under what circumstances, dynastic politics can actually improve things. And the theory has important implications for non-dynastic politics.
Needless to say, a blog isn’t the place to fully write down a well structured model. Give me a research and consulting grant, and I’ll do that for you.