Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Playing the bureaucracy card

I was reading an opinion piece in the Monkey Cage column of The Washington Post titled, How an election may undermine democracy in Turkey.

One sentence caught my eye.
According to political scientist Joel S. Migdal, “strongman” leaders operating in “weak states” sometimes have an incentive to weaken the bureaucracy to ensure that rival political actors don’t accrue the tools and power needed to overthrow them. They therefore have a perverse incentive to weaken certain elements of the bureaucracy, while favoring others.

It made me think of Nigeria, not Turkey.

To me it seems that Migdal's assertion describes what's going on in Nigeria as bureaucratic actors in the central bank, the electrical ministry, the oil ministry, and others challenge the president and the legislature to investigate billions of naira missing from government accounts. President Jonathan's response has been to fire people and replace ministers. The closely divided legislature, especially the newly organized opposition, is frozen by politics and the participation of many legislators in the corruption that's been going on for so long.

Meanwhile President Jonathan complains that public reports of corruption are tarnishing the good name of Nigeria.

Is it the reports or the corruption that is tarnishing Nigeria's reputation?

Can you find any signs of political conflict or collusion between bureaucrats and politicians in other countries?

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