Argentina’s Hillary

SUNDAY’S voting in Argentina is somewhat predictable, going by common consensus that there’s no major challenge to the outgoing president’s wife, Cristina Kirchner, at the hustings. Comparisons with Hillary Clinton are making the rounds, in positive ways, but there are questions too, like, should this be how democracy must work?

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Published: Mon 29 Oct 2007, 9:05 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:03 AM

Prima facie, it would look strange that a leftist leader has created conditions for his better half to succeed him. Ideology, not wives, guides the leftists. But, then, Nestor Kirchner is no hard-core ideologist, unlike the other leftist leaders, in Latin America or elsewhere. On his part, he has managed to steer the economy in the right directions, as is generally believed. Good of him. It is also rare for a leader to step down from power at the end of his first term, as the president is all set to do now. Be that as it may, if the people are game for Cristina, who are we take exception? After all, in a democracy, people decide a nation’s fate; and of their own, some might say.

Yet, at a theoretic level, we have got to disagree with the trend. Dynastic succession is the negation of the basic principles of democracy, be it in Argentina, the United States, or elsewhere. We have had situations in the past, as in Asian democracies, where family members line up for leadership, period after period.

India, claiming itself to be the world’s largest functional democracy, is no exception. But, in the best interests of the political system they are wedded to, politicians in democracies would do well to resist the temptation to promote their family members to top positions of power.

It will not do to claim that people elect who they want. What, of the situations that are deliberately created to facilitate such successions, even at the expense of more deserving candidates? It will not also do to say a Hillary or a Cristina is well-educated, or that they are lawyers, Senators etc. Or, the cause of women’s empowerment. Well, it’s one thing; and, nepotism, or what’s perceived so, is quite another.

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