The Instrumental and Ideological Politicisation of Senior Positions in Poland’s Civil Service and its Selected Consequences

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Abstract

The article focuses on the problem of the civil service’s dependence on its political superiors in Poland in 1996–2017. It aims to analyse the motivations of politicians responsible for civil service reforms and to assess the impact of these reforms on the effectiveness of the corps’ functioning. The authors conceptualise the problem of politicisation of the civil service by referring to the theory of politicisation adding an extra dimension of political ideas and institutions as an important factor of change in Poland’s public administration system. The article describes the stages of civil service reform in Poland over the last twenty years, taking into account the political context, the most important postulated changes and the associated controversies with reference to the concepts outlined in the theoretical part. The study also comprises a relevant literature review based on a number of sources, including the reports published by the Head of the Civil Service in Poland, international databases (including Quality of Government) and specialist reports with a particular emphasis on research devoted to Central Europe. The findings paint a multi-layered and nuanced picture of the evolution of the Polish civil service and its strong associations with the issue of the so-called “unfinished transformation”. In addition the article confirms that both the instrumentalisation of institutions by the “camp” of political opportunists and their formal, radical reconstruction by the “ideological contrarians” resulting in the centralisation of power around the ruling parties have had a negative effect on the quality of civil service functioning in Poland.

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