De leidinggevende ambtenaren : bureaucraten of ideologen ?

  • Guido Dierickx
  • Philippe Majersdorf


The Belgian senior civil servants do have a political ideology which, with respect to coherence and constraint, is not inferior to that of the members of Parliament and, therefore, far superior to that of the common man. The first characteristic of this ideology is its centrism: senior civil servants tend to shun the extremes, especially the socio-economic (leftist and rightist) extremes. A second characteristic is its bias toward the center-right. But the latter may be an effect of recruitment and promotion practices under the recent Belgian governing coalitions, rather than of the bureaucratic experience under all kinds of governments.
That the bureaucratie experience leaves its mark on the ideological constructs of the bureaucratie elite can also be inferred from other data. They are inclined to centralism because the recent federalisation process imposes a heavy burden on their routines. They do not have a distinctive ideological profile with respect to religious and philosophical issues because these rarely appear on the agenda of most of the civil servants.
The consequences of these characteristic ideological options are not to be underestimated.  There is a clear affinity between a leftist ideology and a less technocratic and less alienated political attitude. At the same time leftist civil servants
are more inclined to commit themselves to active partisan politics. Their colleagues of the right tend more to up hold the traditional distance between bureaucracy and partisan politics. The optimal prescription for administrative reform would, perhaps, consist in furthering a more political, less technocratic style of administrative policy making, and in maintaining the traditional wariness of partisan politics.

How to Cite:

Dierickx, G. & Majersdorf, P., (1992) “De leidinggevende ambtenaren : bureaucraten of ideologen ?”, Res Publica 34(1), 53-73. doi:

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Published on
30 Mar 1992
Peer Reviewed