The Politics of Political Appointments
By manipulating the screening and selection of executive bureaucrats, political leaders can indirectly control the policy preferences that are carried out and enforced within a polity. In this article, we argue that precisely for this reason, partisan conflict over public policies often generates partisan conflict over bureaucratic appointments. To assess the empirical merits of this proposition, we analyze a unique dataset tracing the careers of all agency heads appointed within the executive administration of Sweden between 1960 and 2011. We find that agency heads are more likely to be replaced following partisan shifts in government. We conclude that even when political leaders are constrained by strict civil service regulations on personnel management, partisan politics tends to determine the appointment of executive bureaucrats.
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