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Bargains of responsiveness: The interactions of ministerial advisers, political staff, and civil servants

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Rok publikování 2023
Druh Další prezentace na konferencích
Popis The paper seeks to explore the roles of ministerial advisers in broader intra-executive settings of politicization (Staronova and Rybar, 2023, forthcoming). Most literature tacitly assumes that advisers deal with permanent meritocratically selected bureaucrats whose tenure is independent of their political superiors. Only recently did literature recognize that other political staff may shape advisers’ roles because of differences in seniority, numbers, and partisan links. Various authors assess the bargains and relationships of advisers with cross-partisan appointees (Askim et al. 2018), permanent secretaries (Christiansen et al. 2016), political civil servants (Ebinger et al. 2019), and within ministerial cabinets (Gouglas et al. 2017). We see two main gaps in the literature. Firstly, existing accounts offer little guidance for understanding the cases where advisers face bureaucracy that is not merit-based (“patronage bureaucracy,” see Panizza et al. 2018, Staronova and Rybar 2021). When ministers fire and hire ordinary bureaucratic personnel, bureaucracies are, in fact, responsive to governing elites, with consequences for the roles advisers play. What tasks do ministerial advisers perform in such settings? Secondly, as the presence of high-ranking political staff affects advisers’ functions and responsibilities, we need to consider the interactions of all politically responsive actors to governing elites. How do patronage bureaucracy, various types of political staff, and ministerial advisers interact with each other to provide responsiveness to politicians? Using the most similar systems design, the paper investigates the roles of ministerial advisers in Slovakia and Czechia. Top-level political staff at the ministries typically come from high-ranking members of political parties that control the government. The distribution of these posts reflects the logic of bargaining among governing political parties. The critical difference between the two cases is that the level of patronage in the ministerial bureaucracy is considerable in Slovakia, while it is rather limited in Czechia. In other words, the posts in Slovak ministerial bureaucracy are heavily patronage-based, while the Czech civil service is considered merit-based. The paper uses semi-structured interviews with advisers, top civil servants, and high-ranking political appointees as the primary method of investigation. Our preliminary results suggest that Czech advisers’ policy roles are limited, a fact we attribute to the roles of autonomous and merit-based civil servants. However, their involvement in political roles is variable, reflecting their negotiations with top-level political staff. In contrast, Slovak advisers rarely engage in policy-related roles, and their participation in significant political roles is also limited. As policy responsiveness is achieved via patronage to civil service, and the top political appointees deal with issues of high politics, advisers play a distinct role in which the personal bond of trust to their ministers is central. Ministers may need close aides who provide unconditional support and backing based on personal rather than partisan ties. Thus, the paper demonstrates that advisers’ roles also depend on the broader context that emerges from their interactions with other bureaucratic players.
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