Servants of the people, abbreviated to SPs, are all those who hold office in politics and government, whether paid or unpaid. The people grant them power to enable them to serve, and they must handle that power with integrity. But how do should do that? This free ebook offers necessary concepts, insights and guidelines for integrity in politics and government. Each of the 95 chapters discusses one of the many facets of integrity, with plenty of positive and negative examples from all over the world. In this book the author applies his 25 years of experience as a consultant to public sector administrators, as a professor of integrity and as an SP himself. The central message of the book is that integrity has great power: it can make or break the careers of politicians and officials.
Whether we are talking about politicians, government officials, semi-officials, or volunteers for political parties, about mayors, prime ministers, or monarchs, they all have at least one thing in common: they are ministers in the Latin sense of the word, which means servants. They are chosen, appointed, or elected to serve the people, society, or their community. As Tony Blair rightly said to his campaign team after he first won the UK national elections, “The people are the masters. We are the servants of the people. We will never forget that.”4 For the same reason Russian presidents take an oath: “I swear in exercising the powers of the President of the Russian Federation … to faithfully serve the people.”
In order to be able to serve, servants of the people, in this book abbreviated to SPs,6 are given power in their positions to make, execute, or control policy. They have the power to influence something or someone.7 That is why the Russian president’s oath makes the connection with exercising power. There is a risk that this power SPs have will not be used for its intended purpose, that of service. Aristotle, one of the first and greatest philosophers and political scientists, said that because rulers have power they will be tempted to use it for personal gain.8 This applies not only to rulers but to all SPs: power brings with it the temptation of improper use or abuse. It is important that SPs withstand this temptation, and that requires integrity. But what is integrity, why is it so important, and what demands does it make on SPs?
This book is written for SPs and aims to answer these questions.9 Each of the 95 chapters discusses one of the many facets of integrity.10 The central message is that there is great power in integrity for SPs. Those acting with integrity gain power, whereas a lack of integrity undermines or destroys power.
The book is divided into 16 parts. Part I is about important sources for determining what integrity is, namely rules, morality, and ethics. Part II shows that SPs’ integrity rests in both their behavior and their character. Part III is about the ways in which SPs’ integrity can be assessed. Part IV proposes that SPs should be expected to show a higher level of integrity than the average citizen. Part V argues that integrity is contained in SPs’ ideals and viewpoints. Part VI describes the factors which put the integrity of an SP under pressure. The following three parts deal with three important traits SPs need to handle this pressure with integrity: faithfulness, willingness to serve, and responsibility. Part X describes an important dilemma for SPs, namely the gap between standards and practice, while part XI offers rules of thumb for handling dilemmas. Part XII describes the importance of integrity for SPs and part XIII suggests ways of tackling behavior lacking integrity. Part XIV shows that integrity is important both before and after holding office. Part XV argues that the importance of integrity extends beyond the personal level. Part XVI closes with a call for readers to put integrity into practice without delay, because, as prime minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore said, “good politics is first and foremost about integrity”.