Political purges check governmental development, tend to tighten government control, and cause alienation and apathy. Persons in political office whose policies and opinions are felt to be corrupt, impure or immoral may be eliminated by demotion, arrest, imprisonment, exile or execution. Purges are usually the result of ideological conflict and represent a hardening of attitudes against any liberalization which has evolved.
It has been estimated that Stalin was responsible for the death of over 20 million during the 1930s. Few of any prominence over the age of 40 survived such purges, other than members of the Politburo. Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the Serbian public sector was purged of politically unfit state employees, including journalists, teachers, university rectors, and physicians. These were replaced by loyal members of the Serbian ruling party as part of a programme of "rationalization". In East Germany, following reunification, staff are dismissed for misdeeds allegedly committed under the former regime. In 1992 it was reported that 884 university teachers had been dismissed in Saxony on political grounds, although many others had lost their jobs through reorganization.