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Institutionalisation of Political Parties: Comparative Cases. Edited by Robert Harmel and Lars G. Svasand

The Predominance of Technocrats in Cabinets at any Cost? Expertise and Portfolio in Democratic Spain

Political Parties
Juan Rodríguez Teruel
University of Valencia
Juan Rodríguez Teruel
University of Valencia

The Eurozone crisis has reinforced the role of experts and technocrats in Southern European countries, although in some cases their presence was already a constant in national executives. Among these, Spain is an outstanding case of limits to party government when appointing ministers and subministerial offices. Despite the strong role of political parties in institutions and political decision-making, non-partisan cabinet members and experts represent a relevant and fluctuating proportion of the government. This is explained by the importance given to specialised background in socioeconomic portfolios (Economy, Health, Education…), but also to political strategic reasons depending on the prime minister strength. Following my previous research on the issue, this paper aims to test these factors (portfolio, political context, crisis) to explain the appointment of technocrats ministers, defined as cabinet members with managerial or previous knowledge on their portfolios, in Spanish ministers since the 1970s. The results will show that the appointment of technocrats is also a political strategy to manage the relationship between cabinets, parliaments and ruling parties in order to avoid risk and preserving cabinet stability.
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