Politicization of public service

Other Names:
Undue political influence on the civil service
Appointment of political placemen as public servants
Politicization of government jobs

Few governments readily accept political neutrality on the part of their civil servants. They consider that no government employees should be neutral with regard to government aims and objectives and that they should be committed to the basic goals as expressed through the political organizations and processes. Some governments expect the civil/public servants, especially those occupying senior positions, not only to toe the party line but to be active party members. There is a growing concern for bureaucracy's awareness of and support for the substance of the government's policies, and this requirement is tending to extend an imperative for commitment to the governing party's ideology.

The other factor which has eroded civil service neutrality is the new role imposed on the service by the requirements of development. Development imposes a multiple role on the public servant because what is intended is to emphasize the spirit of cooperation that should characterize the public service. Development requires that civil servants come out openly in support of government policies and even try to legitimize these policies to the public so that they will have a real chance of success. Political neutrality of public servants denies society the benefit of making full use of the few educated and enlightened people who are concentrated in the public services. Anonymity ceases to be a virtue and public servants, especially those in the upper echelons, are encouraged, indeed required, to come out of their protective shells and acquire conviction through active participation in politics. In fact, in some cases they are even required to assume a proselytizing role in the interest of recruiting the widest political support for the party and its ideology.


Politicization of the public-service system has general implications. First, party and bureaucratic positions tend to be interchangeable. Second, public servants are required to be highly politicized and may even engage in proselytizing activities, with the result that their role is no longer limited to the execution of policy. Third, as noted above, promotions tend to be granted not only on merit and seniority principles but also according to the individual's contribution to the activities of the party. Fourth, low-ranking public servants may accordingly enhance their prospects for promotion by becoming active agents of the party. Fifth, senior public servants get a chance to improve the quality of policy-making since they are better educated and better trained than many of the politicians. And finally, party positions may in the end be filled, to some degree at least, on the basis of education and long service.

Related Problems:
Bureaucratic superiority
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST