Sunday, 24 April 2011

Public, not Political, Servants

Harald Beyer nails it. All the commentary on Housing Minister Matte's resignation last week missed the essential point. But as Beyer points out, in a modern and professional public service, political and professional responsibilities are fairly clearly laid out. The Concertación went further than anyone else in trying to install some sort of professional public service, but it did not go far enough, and the current government has backtracked even on the small steps taken.

However, political responsibility is political responsibility, and ministers resign even in systems with professional civil services, even for errors that are not of their own making. Matte was roundly praised for doing something that any minister in her position ought to do. Sometimes they are pushed, sometimes they take the hit on their own. That it should elicit such praise from all quarters doesn't speak well of Chile's current political system.

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