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Monday, August 25, 2003

Dynastic Regimes
From a NY Times editorial:

Earlier this month, President Heydar Aliyev, who has ruled Azerbaijan almost continuously since 1969, installed his son, Ilham, as prime minister. President Aliyev, who has no vice president, is now ill. So Ilham, whose reputation has been mainly that of an international playboy, is first in line to succeed his father and is likely to win the presidency in October if his father does not run.

Azerbaijan is not a monarchy at least not formally. But its ruler is now joining a sizable list of nominally democratic presidents who engineer a deathbed transfer of power to a son. Such successions promise short-term continuity. But the damage they do to democratic institutions creates long-term instability.

Imagine the horror of living in a country where somebody becomes president mostly because his father used to be president. The damage it does to democratic institutions!