The French Civil Service: Bureaucracy in Transition

By Walter Rice Sharp | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV THE BACKGROUND OF RECRUITMENT

"On gouverne avec un parti; on administre avec des capacités."

-- GAMBETTA.


A. THE PASSING OF PATRONAGE

In the American sense, it cannot be said that French public administration has ever been dominated by "spoils politics." A multi-party system, making inevitable coalitionism in the executive, does not lend itself to wholesale purgings of the administrative stables at periodic intervals. For one thing, general elections in France seldom mean a general overturn in the control of the Government; for another, cabinet changes between elections are only partial in so far as the party complexion of the Government is concerned. There is usually but a slight shift to the Right or to the Left. Yet, "so long as no single party dominates the Chamber it is necessary to buy the support of groups numerous enough to constitute a majority, and patronage is the obvious means to that end."1 But in France this patronage has not been something controlled and distributed by a single national party organization. It has rather been a process whereby deputies and senators in the good graces of the governing coalition might secure governmental posts for political associates, personal friends, and relatives, such favors being granted by ministers or prefects as a reward for the continued support of such members in Parliament.

The historic origin of French administrative patronage dates

____________________
1
Harold J. Laski, Authority in the Modern State ( New Haven, 1917), p. 370.

-75-

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