Competence and Control: The Effect of Democratization on the Civil Service
Does democratization lead to more meritocracy in the civil service? I argue that electoral accountability increases the value of competence over personal loyalty in the civil service. While this resembles an application of merit principles, it does not lead to an automatic reduction in patronage politics. In the context of elections in low-income countries, competent civil servants are used to facilitate the distribution of clientelistic goods at mass-scale to win competitive elections. The selection of competent but less loyal civil servants also requires the increased use of control mechanisms, like the timing of promotions, to ensure compliance by civil servants. I test these claims using novel micro-level data on promotions in Indonesia's civil service before and after democratization in 1999.
Drawing on the full universe of career histories of all current Indonesian civil servants, I show that national and local level elections led to increased promotion premiums for educated civil servants, while simultaneously generating electoral cycles in the timing of promotions.