The appointment of political favourites or supporters to sinecures by a government or by high officials with a vested interest in making such appointments helps to tighten government control and the political power of a group or of one key person (such as the president). It may also serve as a means of political repression through propaganda. Political appointees in key industries and administration are characteristic of most dictatorships; where such appointments are made in constitutional democracies their predominant role is more that of enriching the elite of which they are part than simply keeping the elite in power. The appointment of political favourites may cause inefficient as well as corrupt administration.
The practice of appointment of political supporters to public office became institutionalized in the USA from 1800 until after the Civil War, and was known as the 'spoils system'.