Organising and administering modern states is a massive process that requires skill, experience and expertise. For centuries, bureaucracies have played an important role in politics, and rulers have wrestled with the problem of keeping effective control over their civil servants. However, the impact of the bureaucracy on policy-making has grown with the expansion of government. In communist party states, centralised party control over society placed great power in the hands of the bureaucrats. Civil servants also play a major role in many liberal democracies. For example, Metternich’s description of Austria in the last century as ‘not governed but administered’ still fits. Similarly, C. Johnson (1982) has argued that in Japan, although elected politicians have formal positions of power, bureaucrats are the major influence on decision-making.
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