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Thailand leads in political families: study
Publication Date : 14-10-2013
Thailand has the world's highest ratio of MPs who are heirs or relatives of big political clans and families, a study unveiled yesterday by an academic shows.
Satithorn Thananithichote, of the King Prajadhipok's Institute, said up to 42 per cent of members in the House of Representatives, who were elected in July 2011, came from big political families.
Thailand leads Mexico (40 per cent), the Philippines (37 per cent), Japan (33 per cent), Argentina (10 per cent) and the United States (6 per cent). Satithorn cited the Shinawatras as an example of a political family, which has successfully expanded its political power since 1997.
The academic said the foundations for political power of the Shinawatra family were laid by former Chiang Mai MP Lert Shinawatra - the father of former prime minister Thaksin. Lert was elected in 1969. His power was perpetuated by his brother Suraphan Shinawatra, who was elected in 1979, 1983, 1986 and 1988.
Satithorn said Thaksin came in to perpetuate the family's power in the 2001 general election, and had successfully passed power to his brother-in-law Somchai Wongsawat, a former PM, and the current premier Yingluck. Several other members of the family have also been elected, including Yaowapha Wongsawat and Chinnicha Wongsawat.
The study found that the ruling Pheu Thai Party had the highest number of political families. Some 19 political families currently have MPs in Pheu Thai Party, followed by the Democrats, with 17 political families. The Bhum Jai Thai and Chart Thai Pattana parties have four and three political families, while the Palang Chon Party and the Rak Prathet Thai has members from one political family each among its MPs.
In terms of the percentage of MPs from the same political families in comparison to all MPs of a party, the study found that the Chart Thai Pattana came top with 31.6 per cent. It is followed by the Palang Chon (28.6 per cent), Rak Prathet Thai (25 per cent), the Democrats (22 per cent), Bhum Jai Thai (17.6 per cent) and Pheu Thai (15.1 per cent).
The study found the influence of big political families in Thai politics had not dwindled but was more complex, resulting in election of new politicians who also had influence in areas outside the influence of their families.