spoils system


spoils system

noun

Definition of SPOILS SYSTEM

:  a practice of regarding public offices and their emoluments as plunder for members of the victorious party

First Known Use of SPOILS SYSTEM

1838

spoils system

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

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 also civil service.

Variants of SPOILS SYSTEM

spoils system or patronage system

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