Southeast Asia is East…and West is West

Partyforumseasia: The vast scholarly literature on political parties is often rather theoretical, and academic ambitions make “theorizing” a necessity for the young scholars. Starting to analyze the parties in “Non-Western” systems with the tool box from Europe, where most of the scholarly models have been developed, can be tricky, though. At face value, there are all the well known attributes, headquarters, members, presidents, vice-presidents, branches, central committees, internal elections, even membership fees. However, to start with the latter, membership fees in Southeast Asia’s parties are symbolic at best, if collected at all. With election campaign costs spiraling and reaching absurd levels, the funding is getting more and more the central problem. That affects the image of many parties and their leaders because money has to be found, and  corruption scandals erupt frequently. In some countries in the region, the voters expect tangible returns for their votes which has lead to so-called “pork-barrel politics”. The candidates, rather often, invest into their campaigns, are expected to “help” their voters once they are elected, and consequently need to recoup the invested sums one way or the other. For many of them, just recouping is not enough, they can also enrich themselves via their political engagement. It is maybe one of the big differences compared with Europe that there are many more “unusually rich” politicians in Southeast Asia.  This is not saying that politicians in Europe are underpaid, but a mandate in most parliaments is financially not attractive for professionals and even less for entrepreneurs who earn much more.

Partyforumseasia has been interviewed by Global Review with a list of questions about the characteristics of political parties in Southeast Asia.
What are the differences between Western and Southeast Asian parties?

You find questions and answers under this Link

Comments and opinions are most welcome!

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