Politics

A few issues of decline and a few insidious features
John Bowers

The Civil Service Commission’s primary job is to safeguard an impartial and effective civil service and to ensure appointments are made on merit. The Commission’s existence and role were enshrined in legislation in 2010. The spadocracy is an important element in the civil service’s ‘loss of mojo’, also known as the loss of the sense of being trusted by ministers. The relations between ministers and senior officials are often tense but may turn toxic (as was the case with Sir Philip Rutnam and Priti Patel at the Home Office). But past sporadic fallings-out are nothing compared with the wholesale warehouse clearance that took place in the early stages of the Johnson government. Another indicative feature of poor relationships is the increasing use of Ministerial Directions to direct civil servants. This use indicates that the politicians are not accepting the advice of civil servants.

in Downward spiral
Harold Trinkunas

This chapter discusses the obstacles to progress in democratic civilian control of the military in Latin America. It examine the challenges and opportunities facing democratic civil-military relations in three tiers of countries: consolidated democracies with attention deficits; struggling democracies at risk of being overwhelmed by criminality; and populist regimes sliding into authoritarianism. It argues that even in the most stable and prosperous democracies, civilian ‘attention deficits’ persist despite both normative and policy reasons to overcome them. In the upper-middle income consolidated democracies of the region, such as Chile, the problem remains mostly one of civilian inattention. In the second tier are largely smaller countries close to the main routes of international drug trafficking from the northern Andes through Central America and the Caribbean into the United States and Europe, which experience much more immediate security threats from organised crime and drug trafficking. Finally, there is a third set of states in the region in which the rise of elected populist leaders has led in some cases to the erosion of democracy, and where a combination of weak checks and balances and military quiescence created permissive conditions under which nascent authoritarian regimes consolidated their authority. The chapter’s conclusion considers the past and future of democratic civil-military relations, considering the findings from contemporary Latin America.

in Governing the military
Two success stories
John Bowers

There is a cluster of independent offices on the ground floor of 1 Horse Guards Road. The Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) resides there, along with the Civil Service Commission, the Commissioner for Public Appointments and the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. The CSPL is generally a story of success, and it is enjoying a particularly strong period at present. Arguably the Committee’s most valuable role in the last decade is that of a long-term public institutional memory for handling standards issues across all areas of public life. The National Audit Office (NAO) is an independent Parliamentary body that is responsible for auditing central government departments, government agencies and non-departmental public bodies. In 2020, the NAO’s work led to a positive financial impact through reduced costs, improved service delivery or other benefits to citizens, to the tune of £926 million.

in Downward spiral
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New timber to replace the rotten wood
John Bowers

Leadership is, for good reason, one of the most important of the seven Nolan Principles. We need a new Nolan-style review to locate an ethical consensus in the form of a Speaker’s conference or commission. The Speaker is a figure above politics who could convene the right mixture of politicians and outsiders. Johnson’s premiership saw a general contempt for Parliament born out of what many saw as a refusal by Parliament to accept the outcome of the Brexit referendum: for example, Dominic Cummings described non-compliant MPs as ‘narcissistic and delusional’ and speculated (presumably in jest) about bombing Parliament. There should also be a five-year cooling-off period during which former ministers and senior civil servants cannot engage in any lobbying activities in respect of their old departments. Enforcement of the Ministerial Code itself should be strengthened. Ministers should swear an oath to abide by it when appointed.

in Downward spiral
Abstract only
Advancing the governance of the military
Carlos Solar

This concluding chapter summarises the critical aspects of the governance of the military under democracy covered in the book. It provides final explanations to how governing the military is influenced and shaped by issues of democracy, governance, and policymaking. The chapter sheds light on the most relevant explanatory outcomes identified in the book that were considered critical, but suggests that improvements are necessary: directing attention to civil-military relations; expanding subordination to civilians; defining missions and roles; augmenting control and effectiveness; controlling expenditure; enhancing interagency collaboration; finding a purpose for international engagements; and generating transparency and integrity. The chapter concludes three main points to advance the governance of the armed forces. Firstly, because the Chilean military was so crucial in dealing with the external threats of the Cold War, turning the page to the new security scenario after democratisation posited more relevant questions stressing the governance efforts to politically manage the military. Secondly, there is uncertainty towards what roles the military should take under foreign and domestic missions, on the one hand, and whether civilians have enough expertise and independence to lead the military when societal pressures seem most intense. Finally, a convergence of views between civilians and the military show that there is willingness, maybe not uniformly across the board, to agree on proposals that a decade-and-a-half ago would have found considerable opposition (i.e., autonomy over military affairs, transparency on operations and internal governance, among others). Chilean elected authorities have tightened their grip, making the transition to democracy substantially more successful through hindering, whenever possible, military prerogatives to strengthen democratic practices.

in Governing the military
Marcos Robledo

The purpose of this chapter is to consider Chilean civil-military relations, the social upheaval or estallido social of 2019, the COVID-19 emergency, and the beginning of the constituent process. It begins by considering the return to democracy and the civil-military relations advances that, from a historical perspective, reversed previous practices of militarism, understood as the militarisation of politics whether by civilians or military, including the Pinochet authoritarian regime. The chapter also discusses how democratisation allowed for civil-military relations to make important advances toward an increasing, institutionalised democratic civilian control and effective governance over the defence and the military. More recently, however, there is a growing militarisation of the civilian governance, which has led civil-military relations to a new phase. The first section places the Chilean experience in historical perspective. The second section explains the basic characteristics of Chilean civil-military relations and their evolution, especially from 2010 onwards, with the first structural reforms of the sector begin, and their link with the Chilean political and institutional crisis. The chapter concludes that the country’s future is open, and its outcome, which should include a new constitution, will indicate whether Chile deepens its remaining dynamics of deconsolidation and militarisation, or whether it moves towards overcoming its severe democratic deficits and a deeper process of democratic consolidation.

in Governing the military
What happens when good chaps do not behave
John Bowers

The rule of law is central to our constitution and goes beyond the law as it is applied day to day. The authors look at the separation of powers and the conventions that support this concept, before returning to the crucial question of the rule of law and its infringement. The conventions of the constitution are generally informal understandings, some of which have crystalised over many centuries. For the great constitutional authority A. V. Dicey, writing in the 1880s as a Whig jurist, conventions were principally customary rules that determined the way discretionary or prerogative powers would be exercised. Some of the key conventions are collected together in some form in the Ministerial Code. An example is that ‘ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister’, to which we will turn in a moment.

in Downward spiral
Abstract only
Carlos Solar
and
Gregory Weeks

This chapter argues that peaceful high-income countries can enter a phase of what others have termed ‘defence austerity’, in which budgets are cut and military structures put to question. There is a lack of studies that can contextualise what occurs in nations after democratisation, becoming, among other things, more institutionally responsible, financially sustainable, and risk-averse to the idea of traditional war, such as Chile. The defence austerity trade-off has reinforced a desire for more transparency in military expenditure and the depoliticisation of the armed forces, moving away from the legacy of Pinochet’s dictatorship. Defence austerity has been partly embodied in military expenditure, which dropped from 4,2 per cent in 1990 to less than 2 per cent as a share of GDP. Meanwhile, in the same period the nation has become richer, climbing from US$ 2,300 to US$ 15,400 on the GDP per capita index. Considering a slow economic growth for the advanced democracies and the emerging markets in the years to come, the chapter explores defence policymaking under austere budgeting. It presents evidence to argue that politicians struggle to finance a myriad of public policy areas in which defence and security compete for resources that could be well provided to health, education, employment, or housing. The chapter concludes that more stringent measures of financing and money allocation should be put in place.

in Governing the military
Abstract only
Collapsing public standards and how to restore them
Author:

The Johnson era will be remembered for a series of scandals that severely eroded trust in the British government. In this book, the author presents a fearless examination of the decline in ethical standards before, during and after the Johnson government. He focuses on the institutions responsible for holding the government accountable, exposing how they have been bypassed by prime ministers determined to impose their agenda. Through interviews with political insiders, the author provides analysis of scandals such as partygate, Greensill and the revolving door with the private sector. He shines a light on a culture of favouritism, where standards are upheld based on little more than the assumption those in power can be trusted to behave. The decline in public standards is happening despite the existence of a complex, reasonably well-staffed and wide-ranging web of committees and structures that act as guardians. There is a confusing patchwork of such bodies. The author also reviews in particular the work of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the National Audit Office, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the Civil Service Commission, the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests, the Electoral Commission, the House of Lords Appointments Commission and the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists.

Carlos Solar
and
Markus Hochmüller

This chapter asks why military corruption persists in democratic Latin America and what the drivers of this corruption are by looking at the governance of the military from a comparative perspective in two very different cases: Chile and Guatemala. It argues that the institutional autonomy and corresponding prerogatives of the military, dating back to authoritarianism in Chile and civil war in Guatemala, are crucial to understanding the ongoing reproduction of corruption. The chapter focuses on how institutional privileges promoted or at least provided a fertile ground for corruption to take place. It gives insights into how the institutional design and position of the armed forces in post-authoritarian societies facilitates military corruption. While Chile and Guatemala show significant variation in democratic consolidation, transparency, and corruption perception, their military corruption cases are strikingly similar. In both countries, the authors find evidence of corrupt endeavours in all branches of the military: clandestine networks of officers embezzling funds for private gain; informal networks that seek to channel funds for illicit use; and complex webs of dependencies between the armed forces and private business, military industry, politics, and organised crime. The cases of Chile and Guatemala suggest that the third wave of democratisation has not erased corrupt practices in the military – an institution regarded as the carrier of modernisation during the Cold War period.

in Governing the military