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.