Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Public Money & Management

For a Special Issue on

World elections: new governments working (or not) with the civil service

Manuscript deadline
31 December 2024

Cover image - Public Money & Management

Special Issue Editor(s)

João V. Guedes-Neto, Getúlio Vargas Foundation—FGV EBAPE, Brazil
[email protected]

Vincent Martigny, Université Côte d'Azur and École polytechnique, France
[email protected]

B. Guy Peters, University of Pittsburgh, USA
[email protected]

Kutsal Yesilkagit, Leiden University, The Netherlands
[email protected]

Submit an ArticleVisit JournalArticles

World elections: new governments working (or not) with the civil service

Public Money & Management (PMM) theme on:

World elections: new governments working (or not) with the civil service

Guest editors:

João V. Guedes-Neto (Getúlio Vargas Foundation—FGV EBAPE, Brazil); Vincent Martigny (Université Côte d'Azur and École polytechnique, France); B. Guy Peters (Department of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh, USA); and Kutsal Yesilkagit (Leiden University, The Netherlands)

The year 2024 is a ‘year of elections’, with a majority of the world’s population going to the polls. In many of those elections there are parties running that offer credible threats to liberal democratic values and the rule of law. Given these challenges to liberal democracy and governance, PMM wants to examine the resistance that public managers may put forward against elected leaders. Academics have discussed options such as exit, voice and loyalty, or working, shirking or sabotage available to the public managers, so what do they do? Are civil servants in some settings more willing to resist than are others, and why? When they do resist, why are some civil servants more effective than others? Does this resistance alter the fundamental civil service bargains that exist in most liberal democracies?

Elections as critical junctures for politicians and civil servants

This ‘year of elections’ in times of rising populism directs our attention to fundamental questions regarding the relationship between politicians and civil servants. In stable democracies, elections traditionally signify a seamless transition of power from one government to another. However, with the rise of illiberalism, the ritual of power transfer through elections has become increasingly fraught. For instance, the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the victory of the liberal coalition led by Donald Tusk in Poland demonstrate how elections can serve as critical junctures for the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats. Regardless of whether elections result in a new government or reinforce the incumbents, they mark a period during which political leaders and their parties reassess the public service bargain that has shaped their relationship with the bureaucracy. Consequently, political–administrative relationships can be seen as temporary equilibria of power within the core executive.

In these circumstances, the traditional norms of neutrality and competence of the civil service are either reinforced or challenged. The public service bargain, which encompasses mutual expectations between elected officials and bureaucrats, is crucial for maintaining effective governance and administrative stability. Any disruption to this bargain can lead to significant shifts in policy implementation and administrative behaviour. Moreover, elections in the context of rising populism and political polarization further complicate these transitions. Bureaucrats may find themselves navigating a complex landscape where their professional obligations conflict with the ideological demands of newly elected officials. This tension underscores the importance of understanding how political changes impact the functionality and integrity of public administration. This begs students of public administration to explore how different electoral outcomes influence the resilience of the public service bargain and the subsequent implications for democratic governance.

Post-electoral recalibrations?

In some of the elections in 2024 there is not an obvious challenge to liberal democratic values from parties. While not as critical perhaps, it is also important to consider how civil servants will respond to changes in government and, in the case of multi-party systems, the possibility of a long period of negotiation before a new government can be formed. Also, the growing number of victories by coalitions including a far-right populist party in Europe (in Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and even France) and the domination of these political forces in other countries around the world—in the USA under Donald Trump, in Brazil under the Bolsonaro presidency or more recently in India under Narendra Modi or in Argentina since the victory of Javier Milei—raises the question, for senior civil servants supposed to embody the neutrality of public service, of their attitude towards radical political alternatives.

This question raises the issue of how, in general, conflicts relating to societal transition issues are resolved within the civil service, between those in favour of change and those who invoke dominant traditions in public administration to reject it. Furthermore, because the issue cuts both ways, researchers should investigate how new governments deal with bureaucrats and public agencies that are likely to resist their policies and practices. Existing studies cover these and other issues by looking at, for example, the ideological composition of public agencies and the appointment of allies to manage and oversee critical policies and policy sectors.


The guest editors invite submissions of comparative or single case study articles for consideration that address issues such as:

  • What are common themes in 2024’s election campaigns and results, as they relate to the civil service and governance?
  • Politicization of civil services resulting from these elections, and resistance of civil servants to pressures for politicization.
  • Conflicts within the public service following the election of far-right populist parties around resistance to the application of their radical societal transition programmes.
  • Are senior civil servants leaving government after, or even before, the election of illiberal governments? Is this exit resulting in a hollowing out of expertise?
  • How do civil service and politicians’ codes of conduct influence the reactions of both sets of actors to elections?
  • Effective governance depends on trust. Can - and how do - new governments and civil services who may have different values build trust?
  • Has the traditional public service bargain been terminated, eroded, or is it still viable?
  • How should civil servants prepare for a new government, whether of a populist character or not?
  • What do civil servants do when there is no government? How much power should they exercise while waiting for a coalition to be formed?
  • When there is a new government, two sides of the executive triangle change. How do civil servants deal with new ministers and new policy advisors?
  • How elections (perhaps especially those of 2024) reflect increased polarization of the electorate. What does that polarization do to democratic governance, and effective governance?

Submission Instructions

The theme will include research articles (up to 8000 words, excluding references), debate articles (up to 1000 words) and new development articles (up to 3500 words). The guest editors will review the debate contributions; new development articles will be reviewed by one or two reviewers; and research articles will be reviewed by at least two reviewers. See the journal’s instructions for authors:

Interested researchers are invited to submit contributions for consideration via PMM’s online submission portal: Articles submitted to PMM for review must not be under consideration by any other publication outlet.

Accepted articles will be published online on acceptance. The theme will be published in late 2025.

Contact any of the guest editors for questions about the theme ([email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]).

The deadline for submission of research articles via the PMM online platform is 31 December 2024. The deadline for submission of debate and new development articles is 31 March 2025.


Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article