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Gerilim ve Uzlaşma: Demokrasi Ekseninde Bürokrasi ve Siyaset İlişkisi Üzerine Bir Değerlendirme

Author(s): Gamze AKSAN | Özlem ÇELİK

Journal: Selcuk Universitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitusu Dergisi
ISSN 1302-1796

Issue: 25;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Democracy | bureaucracy | the relationship between bureaucracy and politics

The main stress of democracy which is the ideal administrative method of modern societies can briefly be defined as theruling of those elected by the people under their own will, the equality and equal rights for the citizens. The functioning ofdemocracy is possible with the existence of institutions organized with certain rules. Bureaucracy covers this definition and is themain agent for the execution of democracy in an unproblematic way. Furthermore, bureaucracy which implies a form oforganization determined by rules and laws in all levels of the state embodies also structures required by the political organizationlegally holding the power to rule the people. Thought within this context, the harmonious functioning of the structures created bythe elected and the bureaucratic institutions consisting of appointees appears to be a vital necessity for the execution ofdemocracy. However, it is possible to state that these institutions bear some structural and functional problems in practice.In general the term bureaucracy which refers to the execution of procedures and actions, valid in a certain administrativesystem, by authorized and specialized persons, was first used in France in the mid-seventeenth century. The term was derivedfrom the French word “bureau” meaning “office” in English. The other word completing the term “cratie” has its roots in oldGreek and means power and domination (Şahin,1998:2).The various approaches to describing the features of bureaucracy diversify the definition of the concept. The first approachdefines bureaucracy by stressing the structural features of an organization. In this context we are confronted with a bureaucracycarrying certain characteristics as division of labour, hierarchy and procedure systems. The second approach, which pays moreattention to behavioural features, refers to positive organizational aspects such as objectivity, certainty, accuracy, file info andconsistency as well as to negative aspects like avoidance of responsibility, paperwork, rigidity, excessive secrecy, unwillingness inthe exercise and delegation of authorization (Heady’den akt. Eryılmaz,2008:6,7). Parallel to the definitions related to bureaucracy,a variety in bureaucratic theories can be observed. Hegel, Marx and Weber can be named as prominent figures contributingtheoretically to the bureaucratic literature. Another theory contributing to the theories is the elitist theory.In understanding the relationship between politics and bureaucracy and especially between the bureaucrat and the politician,three different approaches come to the forefront. The first and accepted approach is that the political system determines thepolicy to be applied and the bureaucracy applies the determined policy as demanded. The aspect putting this approach forth is theinspection of the politicians on bureaucracy and bureaucrats. The mechanism is realized with the inspection of bureaucracy bypoliticians and the obedience of bureaucrats to politicians (Durgun, 2002: 84) and bureaucrats are ideally seen as a ruling staffwithout political choices, a staff approaching facts impartially and applying every decision made by the politicians (Bayır, 2007: 45). The second approach, on the other hand, denies the political-ruling distinction, bureaucracy has both an administrative andpolitical role, and bureaucrats are in general an intrinsic aspect of governance and the policy process. The advocates of this viewthink that the relationship of politicians and bureaucrats is rational, complementing, interactive and interlocked rather thanhierarchic. The fact that bureaucrats play an active role in society and politics contributes to justice, equality and public good(Eryılmaz, 2008: 96).The development of a strong democratic administration within society requires above all the existence of sophisticated,conscious and productive citizens and also a rational, participatory and responsible political construction. The public in a societywhere democracy is existent as a ruling method refers to right, appropriate and equal treatment in the actions and also to thesupport of the usage of citizenship rights in terms of democratic rights like liberty, justice, freedom, equality and impartiality(Yıldırım, 2009:103,4). In this context it can be spoken of an existence of a positive and meaningful relationship in the frameworkof equality and equal rights between democracy and bureaucracy. The fact that bureaucracy has not individual but universalcriteria in modern state administrations, that is bureaucratic rules and authority are based on non-personal principles, is inharmony with democracy, which has a claim of considering everyone equal before the law. However, this situation does notalways bear the same results. (Mouzelis, 2003: 25-6). On the other hand, the values of democracy are meaningful in terms ofpreventing the bureaucracy to create a closed group of officials and the decrease of authority of the official staff consisting ofappointees. Therefore, democracy which is in favour of an order created by the majority presents a contrast with the thought ofcreating an elite administrative structure (Öztürk, 2003: 36).The sources transforming bureaucracy to an important power centre are the same sources that make the bureaucracy of whatit is and lead to its consideration within society as a legitimate institution in terms of its functions. At this point the knowledgeand expertise of the bureaucrats come first into foreground. Bureaucracy as an institution collecting, archiving and managinginformation holds the information the government needs and the technical expertise needed for the understanding andinterpretation of this information (Eryılmaz, 2008: 98). Besides the knowledge and expertise of the bureaucrats being effective inthe determination of the policies to be applied, this makes them also professionals in applying the policies. Characteristics such asprofessionalism, a permanent and stable status, possessing a certain institutional ideology and quick decision making, the power ofplanning and budgeting render the bureaucrat an important actor in the state administration. When considering the power sourcesof political institutions and especially politicians, we first think of the legitimacy of political institutions. In this context, politiciansrepresenting legitimate authority have the right to allocate the financing required in the functioning of public bureaucracy in thebudget process. Moreover, they can mobilize and enhance their representative power through their relations with political partiesand pressure groups because they stand on a certain voter base. Furthermore, political leaders can produce alternative informationsources by creating their own expert staff other than the present bureaucratic structure (Eryılmaz, 2008:98-108/ Öztürk,2003:119-125). However, the power sources of politics are abstract against the power sources of bureaucracy especially because ofits discontinuity. In bureaucracy, on the other hand, a daily functioning process makes its existence stronger.The incompatibility of interests between the bureaucrat and politician can also be seen as one of the sources for conflictbetween bureaucracy and politics. While the politician aims to get more votes, the bureaucrat aims to obtain a greater budget andto protect the institutional benefit and struggles for it. Therefore, although they seem to pursuit common values like servingsociety, the difference in benefits maximized by politicians and bureaucrats lead to tension.Problems experienced within bureaucracy and present political structures can negatively affect the realization ofresponsibilities towards society in the implementation of democracy. The most important of all is related to trust. We areconfronted with the reality, observable in the social structure, that individuals expecting to make use of equal rights and servicesby authorizing their initiatives to these institutions do not really trust these institutions. In addition, this situation can be one ofthe main reasons for the differentiation between state and society by harming the trust felt for institutional structures. At thispoint it is important to adopt a view putting priority to individuals expecting service in the state administration. Furthermore,non-governmental organizations setting a bridge for a sound connection between state and society are also one of the structuresplaying an important role in the functioning of bureaucracy and politics. In this context, non-governmental organizationsobtaining their power from civil will hold to some extend the power to contribute to the creation of a democratic order bymonitoring these institutions. But the existence of such a civil society requires the existence of citizens aware of their rights andresponsibilities. To put it briefly, the appropriate functioning of democracy, which is the ideal administrative method of today’ssocieties, seems to be dependent on the relationship of an order where institutions guarding the benefits of society exist and areinspected by non-governmental organizations created by responsible individuals
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