Legislators and Variation in Quality of Government
Chapter 11 in Holmberg, Sören & Bo Rothstein (eds) 2012. Understanding Quality of Government. Edward Elgar Publisher, pp. 210-229.
20 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2014
Date Written: 2012
In Chapter 2 of this volume, Rothstein and Teorell elaborate on impartiality as the inherent meaning of quality of government. Their compelling argument extends that in Rothstein and Teorell (2008) and Teorell (2009) where the core conceptual meaning (Sartori 1984; Adcock and Collier 2001) of impartiality is captured by the statement “When implementing laws and policies, government officials shall not take into consideration anything about the citizen/case that is not beforehand stipulated in the policy or the law” (Rothstein and Teorell 2008, p. 170; see also Teorell 2009, p. 13). This chapter suggests two things: while these authors’ conceptualization makes a lot of intuitive sense, one problem is that lack of attention to that quality of government is not only a matter of bureaucratic impartiality. Bad quality of government not only arises from dysfunctionalities on the implementation side of politics and in the administrative arm of the state. It can also grow out of electoral mechanisms on the input side, and from politicians, not civil servants, acting with too much discretion in distributive politics. Second, and as Rothstein (2011, p. 15) stresses, the problem of bad quality of government is not only, or perhaps not even primarily, about corruption. The main issue is better thought of as favoritism, which is a broader phenomenon including most types of corruption but also many acts that are not corruption per se. This chapter’s contribution is principally to demonstrate these two points.
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