Party Patronage in Denmark: The Merit State with Politics ‘On the Side’

Carina Bischoff

in Party Patronage and Party Government in European Democracies

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199599370
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741517 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

Party Patronage in Denmark: The Merit State with Politics ‘On the Side’

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This chapter investigates whether public appointments in Denmark really are as untainted by party politics as its reputation suggests. The evidence presented indicates that merit-based appointments are indeed a large part of the story. It is not the only one, however. In fact, the results indicate that a fairly sharp line can be drawn between the civil service on the one hand, and executing institutions and auxiliary institutions, such as councils and committees, on the other. In the former, the minister’s role is circumscribed and influence appears to be exercised on professional rather than political terms. In the latter, some sectors present a more blurry picture, as political motives blend with professional criteria without replacing them. Moreover, it is notable that politics is most evident in appointments to auxiliary institutions. Finally, potential historical and institutional explanations for the existing balance between parties and the state in Denmark are discussed.

Keywords: public appointments; ministerial rule; merit bureaucracy; party patronage; consensus politics; party government

Chapter.  13142 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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