In 2011 Yingluck Shinawatra became the 1st female prime minister of Thailand, the 3rd member of her family to become prime minister, and the 13th member of her extended family to gain a seat in parliament. Scholarship on family politics in advanced democracies has been scarce, perhaps because family politics are quasi-aristocratic and therefore do not align with the egalitarianism that informs democratic principles. What literature does exist tends to treat family politics in terms of political inheritance or occupational following, and as a legacy of the past that is certain to wane with modernization. When it comes to new democracies, in contrast, scholarship has been more abundant and has treated family politics in terms of corruption, “bossism,” hybridism, and closed games. Professor Ockey will discuss these differences and present some preliminary findings on the scope and nature of family politics in Thailand, drawing on a database of elected members of parliament since the overthrow of the absolute monarchy in 1932.
Jim Ockey is associate professor (reader) and coordinator in the Department of Political Science at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. He is an expert on Southeast Asian politics, with a particular focus on democratization in Thailand.