As Malaysia’s general election is approaching, it is also the time when people discuss politics the most. For people, politics is something that is far away from them and hardly affects their lives. But the truth is that politics is not far from everyone’s mind, and even political developments in the country, such as economic, diplomatic, export and other political changes, are likely to affect the functioning of everyone’s daily life. For example, when the country’s economic situation gets worse, you can directly feel that things become more expensive and your salary starts to be insufficient. When a country is in conflict with a country and bans that country’s imports, the raw materials your industry needs become more expensive and the stocks you own may fall. These are the effects of politics on everyone.
And among the many discussions about politics, one thing that is rarely discussed, but is hard to ignore outright for the enormous impact it can have, is the existence of gerontocracy. This is a political science term that refers to a country, business group, or organization (usually the national government) whose leadership is, on average, older than most of the adult population or is extremely politically conservative. Often, the emergence of gerontocracy has a lot to do with the overall aging of the country. Under the influence of geriatric politics, young people who love to wear Akatsuki shorts and who have the opportunity to be productive have little voice and little opportunity to show more competence. In the following article, a brief introduction to gerontocracy will be given.
Why does gerontocracy politics come into play?
In his work The Republic, the ancient Greek philosopher Plato once stated that “the old should rule and the young should obey”. This is often considered to be the earliest claim about the politics of the elderly. In modern times, however, the emergence of gerontocracy may be attributed to several reasons.
Developments in national health policies: With modern medical technology, older people today have a longer life expectancy than in the past and are able to receive better medical care when they are ill. Many important diseases that once could pose a threat to the elderly are not really too difficult to treat with today’s medicine. This has led to an increase in the average life expectancy of people. And the most important point is that these elderly people, although they may be old in age, may not have deteriorated in thinking and still have relatively good abilities and decades of experience that give them an advantage over younger people when it comes to governing the country. This is one of the reasons why gerontocracy has been able to develop.
Country-specific political ecology: More often than not, the emergence of gerontocracy has something to do with the political ecology of the country. In many countries, politicians place more value on seniority than on ability. For example, before a person can run for the highest office in the country, or be prepared to participate in the highest decision-making body in the country, he must have been involved in politics since he was young, or in his 30s or 40s, and must have had decades of experience to be qualified. When a person with decades of experience but mediocre abilities is running for a position against a person with excellent abilities but who has only recently entered politics, most countries known for their gerontocracy will choose the former.
The benefits of elder politics, and the dangers of gerontocracy
Benefits: The benefits of gerontocracy mainly lie in the experience of the elderly. Many older politicians have personally experienced many important events in the world, and their previous decisions and experiences can be used as a reference when facing difficulties and challenges and leading the country out of trouble. In addition, older people are usually more patient than younger people and less able to be stirred up by emotions. A good older leader will be more able to rule the country smoothly when the country is facing turbulence. An elderly leader may be supported and respected by several generations due to his or her long involvement in politics, which is also important for maintaining the stability of the country.
Dangers: The hazards of gerontocracy may lie in their conservative approach to policy. A country where most of the leadership is ruled by the elderly may be slow to adopt policies, resistant to change, or unaware of world trends and relying purely on experience. For countries that need change, the emergence of elder politics can be detrimental to them. When young political forces are unable to have a voice or make a difference, the country will stagnate and may not have good candidates when a handover is needed later.
In addition, since the elderly have been involved in politics for a long time, they will have their own vested interests. These vested interests may allow them to profit richly as a result, but in the long run, this will be detrimental to the development of the country. In the long run, the political ecology within the country will become more unbalanced, and in the face of a rapidly changing world, the elderly who hold on to their old interests will become an obstacle to national change.
Currently, many countries in the world are also affected by the politics of the elderly, such as China, the United States, Japan, and Korea. Usually, the countries where elder politics emerges also place a lot of importance on seniority and the respect of the upper and lower classes.
Gerontocracy is actually sometimes not a bad thing, if the politician is only old but still young in mentality and policies, young people do not have too many opinions. However, if the policies tend to be conservative, and hold on to the old interests, unwilling to accept change, the country will not be able to develop in the case of long-term oppression of young people. The Soviet Union was once a great nation that disappeared because of gerontocracy. So, we must notice that this political ecology still needs urgent attention and efforts to solve it.