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In U.S. politics, the practice by political parties of rewarding partisans and workers after winning an election. Proponents claim it helps maintain an active party organization by offering supporters jobs and contracts. Critics charge that it awards appointments to the unqualified and is inefficient because even jobs unrelated to public policy change hands after an election. In the U.S., the Pendleton Civil Service Act (1883) was the first step in introducing the merit system in the hiring of government workers. The merit system has almost completely replaced the spoils system. See alsocivil service.
Variants of SPOILS SYSTEM
spoils system or patronage system
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on spoils system, visit Britannica.com.