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Formal politicization of public administration and the EU membership: Case of Slovakia

Open Panel

Abstract

The paper develops and applies a methodology for assessment of formal politicization of managerial positions in a country’s public sector as a whole, in its individual subsets and the developments over time. The methodology has been developed with an aim of measuring dynamics of formal politicization in the new EU member states, where the pace of change in this regard has been quite dramatic. The principal question to be answered by the paper is – what has been the role of the EU accession process in this regard? The methodology is based on mapping of appointment and dismissal procedure for a large scale set of senior officials in the public sector ranging from senior civil servants in the ministries through senior officials in the deconcentrated regional / local branches. Formal political positions are conceptualized as positions which are filled by a decision of a senior political body, such as the parliament, the government and the president. The paper tests the common hypothesis that, with regard to politicization and overall civil service reform, pre-accession period was one of reform and shift towards more merit-based system, while the subsequent membership was accompanied by backsliding (e.g. Meyer-Sahling 2009). The testing is done on Slovakia, a country which is usually perceived as the epitome of this forward-then-backward process (Verheijen 2007, Meyer-Sahling 2009). The evidence does not support this claim with respect to quantitative assessment of either pre-accession or post-accession period. Rather, the formal politicization has been increasing over time. Finally, we analyze some of the reasons for this process.