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The Civil Service in Poland

Theory and Experience


Jolanta Itrich-Drabarek

The book analyzes the theoretical and practical aspects of civil service in Polish public administration and discusses it in a European context. While civil service is explored from a comparative, historical and systemic perspective, the study takes a close look at the history of Polish civil service from 1922 to 2014, civil service in the Second Republic, the status of civil servants during the Polish People’s Republic and the formation of civil service after 1989. There is a special focus on solutions adopted in the light of the Civil Service Act of November 21st, 2008, and the importance of civil service for the modernisation process of public administration in Poland.
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The development of the civil service in Poland has been overcome by obstacles and challenges for a long time. The ongoing debates concerning its operation and the choice of a model to emulate are indicative of the importance politicians, the media and public opinion attach to the civil service. Many opinion-making circles in Poland take the view that it is impossible to build democratic standards in this country without the civil service.

However, the civil service has failed to consolidate in Poland. Despite its historical traditions, there has not been a single political party to date which would favour its development. The political debates the civil service stokes invariably prove to be emotional and sterile; they abound in political bartering – the main actors are usually amateurs incapable of contributing quality solutions.

The conditions under which the Polish civil service has operated can be analysed in a historical and systemic context. The historical perspective reveals the cause of some of the difficulties affecting the civil service, for example, the fact that Poles harbour an ambivalent attitude towards the state is most often attributed to the 18th century partitions and the time of People’s Poland – neither of which was conducive to building confidence in state authorities and public administration. The Third Republic which followed did little to improve the distrust and reluctance stirred by state power and its officials. In contrast, systemic changes, the growing importance of knowledge and information technology, modernisation and Poland’s EU membership...

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