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Resources for Public Office

London Conference 4-5 July 2018

Case studies from Kenya and Mexico:

The Conference discussed the following issues in relation to Mexico and Kenya and their histories of public office:

The legacy of colonial eras in Mexico and Kenya in the Construction of Public Office

Contributors gave a brief summary of the evolution of ideas of public office in Kenya and Mexico, the colonial legacy, but also understandings of patrimonial relations, responsibilities of local politicians and leaders etc.


Expectations of integrity – and the means to achieve it in Kenya and Mexico: coercion, incentives, virtues, practices

A discussion of how ordinary people (and those in the public service, and in politics) understand the responsibilities of office and the nature of integrity? And how is this cultivated or enforced – through what mechanisms; what incentives, what are the sanctions for misconduct (and how consistently are they enforced)? For those working in the public sector, what resources are there to encourage people to perform well in their joba and to promote high standards of conduct?

The place of law in Kenyan and Mexican politics

The interest here is how far politics dominates the interpretation of law; and how far law has resources to challenge decisions made in the political arena

Are there distinctive responsibilities/entitlements of political office in Kenya and Mexico?

How do people see political office – its responsibilities to those who elect them, to the public at large, to the political system and the constitution? And how do those in political office relate to those in administrative public office? How far is the public service relatively independent? Which parts of the political system are seen as powerful and which not?

What are the major challenges to public sector reform?

In your country what sectors of the public service work best (and why, and on what criteria?). Which work least well (and why, and on what criteria?). What reform attempts have had success; and what least? How have reforms been attempted – by whom, using what mechanisms and powers, to what ends?

Political Cartoons

In Mexico, political cartoonists have been prominent in the representation of those in public office whom they see as derelict. For example,
El Hueso [literally “the bone"] is a slang term to refer to public office in Mexico.

El Hueso

Abel Quezada, Gastón Billetes, (1950s)

Gaston Billetes

“Sons of San Garabato, we will end the corruption of our functionaries"
Rius, Don Perpetuo from Supermachos, 1967.Don Perpetuo