Saturday, 18 August 2007

Daughters of Dictators

You could call her Korea's Hilary Clinton or Seoul's Virgin Queen.

Tomorrow is the nationwide primary election for Korea's right-leaning Grand National Party. On this Saturday night, the last-minute speeches have been made, and tomorrow conservative Korea will choose between former Seoul mayor Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, the daughter of assasinated South Korean Dictator Park Chung Hee. While Park has lost her front runner status, with Lee leading the polls for weeks, there's still the chance of an upset victory given the volatility of Korean politics.

Park, who has never married, was Chairman of her Grand National Party until this past May. Her father is remembered both as the father of Korean industrialization and as a ruthless dictator. After her mother was assasinated in in 1974, Geun-hye was regarded as the nation's first lady. During this time, pro-democracy activists (political opponents of her father's military dictatorship) continued to be subject to arbitrary detention and torture, and human rights were considered subordinate to economic development.

How, given all that, you might wonder, is she still a viable--indeed, a leading--candidate for the Korean presidency. With the economic disasters of the 1990s and the leadership scandals of the current Roh administration, many Koreans have grown nostalgic for the economic growth and "strong" leadership of Geun-hye's father's regime.

And, Geun-hye isn't the only female descendent of a brutal dictator to rise to politial power. In Italy, former topless model Alessandra Mussoli(yes, the granddaughter of that Mussolini) won a seat in parliament in 1992 as a member of neofascist Movimento Sociale Italiano. She later
founded a new party of the extreme right, Libertà di Azione ("Freedom of Action"), and recently responded to criticism by trans-gender Italian M.P. candidate Vladimir Luxuria, sayng, "it's better to be a fascist than a faggot."

It's interesting, I think, when you look at a sampling of the roots of some of the world's most politically powerful women.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi's father was the mayor of Baltimore fo twelve years.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, current Presdient of the Philippines, is the daughter of a highly esteemed former President.

Indira Gandhi, who served three consecutive terms as India's first(and only to date) female Prime Minister, was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru and grandaughter of Motilal Nehru, famous Indian nationalist leaders.

P.S. FOUR wonderful interviews today. Exhausted. And airconditioning has been on full blast.

No comments: