Politics dictates 44 per cent of public service appointments Skip to content

Politics dictates 44 per cent of public service appointments

The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, reports on a new study by Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson professor of political science at the University of Iceland.

The study examined 111 appointments made from 2001 through 2005. It found that 44 per cent of all appointments made in the Icelandic civil service are made on political grounds.

Gunnar Helgi said to RÚV that political appointments in the lower ranks of the civil service had decreased, and explained that the reduced number of political appointment in the lower ranks of the civil service was caused by the fact that the parties relied less on volunteers.

However, Gunnar Helgi said that the political parties were “continuously trying to appoint people on political grounds”. He said that the political appointments were in part driven by the reliance of politicians on networks of supporters in party primaries. Certain appointments were also “strategically important and politically sensitive for the parties”. The last factor mentioned by Gunnar Helgi was the need to find jobs for retired politicians which was “especially burdensome for the foreign service”.

According to Morgunbladid, Gunnar Helgi said that the ratio of political to professional appointments in Iceland was “high compared to other countries of Northern-Europe but low compared to the rest of the world”.

The study also found that women hold 29 per cent of senior positions in government. According to RÚV, Gunnar Helgi said there was “no significant correlation” between gender and politics. Women who served as ministers were, however, more likely to appoint women to senior positions than their male colleagues.

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