The Demise of the Public Service Ethos
Public servants are an important, though often overlooked, element of modern democracies. The large bureaucracies which are a feature of all contemporary governments have a major role to play in sustaining democratic structures and practices, especially by providing for a mix of technical expertise and impartial advice within a pluralist framework of representative democracy. Within local government the 2.2 million full and part-time employees1 must be juxtaposed against the 20 000 elected members who are their political masters.2 Often better paid, better qualified, better informed (through professional networks and so on) and more experienced than their political counterparts, it is difficult to deny that local government officers make a significant contribution to the overall policy process in local authorities, and to the more general nature of democracy at the local level. It is important, therefore, that the behaviour of these officers is informed and guided by an underlying culture which supports and understands the political context of democratic local government.
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Notes and references
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