Career De-Separation in Westminster Democracies

Keith Dowding, Marija Taflaga

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    In Westminster parliamentary systems there was once a clear separation between the careers of public servants and of elected politicians. Politicians decided what policies they wanted to pursue, while public servants advised, devised and delivered the policies. This separation ensured that policy ideas were developed by a professional elite with experience and knowledge. Politicians came from a variety of backgrounds, entering politics for a variety of reasons. Over time, the source of policy advice for ministers has shifted from the professional public servant to political advisers lacking experience and with different career ambitions than public service. Increasingly, elected politicians are becoming ‘professionalised’—emerging from similar party and adviser backgrounds. The de-separation of what were once distinct career paths has led to poorer policy development, increasing public malfeasance, a lower-quality civil service, and democratic disenchantment. We need to separate the career paths once more.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)116-124
    Number of pages9
    JournalPolitical Quarterly
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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