Variations in the quality of government within the European Union: A comparative approach of Northern and Southern public bureaucracies


  • Giorgio Oikonomou Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Faculty of Economic and Political Sciences; School of Political Sciences University Campus, Thessaloniki, Greece



administrative models; government; quality; institutions; public administration.


The quality of government represents a critical parameter of modern states for delivering sound public policies for the benefit of citizens. Dimensions such as accountability, impartiality, mechanisms which cope effectively with corruption and government effectiveness stand as core components of the quality of government, whereas at the same time account for much of the variation in the quality of government across European Union (EU) countries. This paper seeks to examine the quality of government by comparing and contrasting countries of the EU with substantially different administrative characteristics and traditions. The research explores two Nordic countries, namely Denmark and Sweden, and, two Mediterranean countries, Italy and Greece.

Taking stock of theoretical insights from the political and economic literature the core aim of the paper is to identify plausible explanations with regard to the variations in the quality of government across the four selected EU member-states. The research draws on quantitative data based on the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) and the European Quality of Government index (EQGI). It is argued that certain traits (legacies) of the political-administrative systems of the countries under examination can explain much of the observed, often striking, variations in the quality of government between the North and the South European bureaucracies.

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Social Evolution of Europe