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Blatant, not Latent: Patronage in Top-Level Appointments in Serbia


This paper examines the model of party patronage in Serbia and its impact on the professionalisation of public administration. Drawing on case studies of the appointment and subsequent performance of heads of three prominent public organisations‐the National Bank of Serbia, the Anti‐Corruption Agency, and the Electro Industry of Serbia‐we demonstrate that, despite efforts to implement the Weberian principle of (neutral competence which involves the prevalence of meritocracy over partisan affiliation, patronage in Serbia has not only persisted but has become more overt and invasive. The given model of patronage involves the pursuit of multiple functions of partisan patronage‐resource extraction, partisan campaigning (including through clientelism), and policy control. We suggest that this model results in the appointment of unqualified individuals to top positions, leading to poor governance and low efficiency of public institutions. The findings point to a (reform reversal” scenario, which departs from the trajectory of mild progress or stagnation usually observed in other cases across post‐communist Europe that follow the adoption ofWeberian standards. As a conceptual contribution, the paper develops a typology, centered around the question of perniciousness of various patronage models, that captures patronage models and trajectories of anti‐patronage developments in a more nuanced manner than the existing frameworks that compare patronage patterns.

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Sozialwissenschaften, Politikwissenschaften, Kommunale Politik und Verwaltung