Populist governments and career diplomats in the EU: the challenge of political capture
Comparative European Politics
GB : Palgrave Macmillan
en ligne - p.
diplomats, diplomatic practice, EU member states, foreign service, populism
The research question of this article is to what extent have populist governments in Austria, Italy and Poland affected the bureaucratic autonomy of career diplomats? The starting hypothesis is that populist governments have a structural conflict with career diplomacy and are tempted to reduce their power through political capture. The case studies of populist governments are as follows: in Austria, the coalition between the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) and the Christian-Democratic Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) between and December 2017 and May 2019; in Italy, the coalition between the two populist parties Five Stars Movement (M5S) and the League (La Lega) between June 2018 and September 2019; in Poland, the national-conservative coalition in which the Law and Justice Party (PiS) is dominant since October 2015. The first part explains why there is a structural conflict between populist governments and career diplomats. The second part analyses the case of a successful political capture of career diplomats by a populist government in Poland. The third part contrasts the previous statement by showing the lack of political capture of career diplomats by populist governments in Austria and Italy. Finally, the fourth part demonstrates why in the case of populist governments at power, career diplomats are often seen as an insurance to international partners, that populist governments themselves may have an interest in considering positively.