Political elites have been called "the core of modern government." During the course of the past century, politicians and bureaucrats have assumed a commanding role in the functioning of modern societies, especially in Europe and North America. Two groups of elites have emerged as particularly important—the civil servants who manage the national bureaucracy and the party leaders who control the national legislative process. There is no question that the attitudes and behaviors of these two groups and their relationships with each other determine, in large part, the way a political system solves its problems, the direction of public policy, and the degree of public support for government.
Elite Images of Dutch Politics is part of an international research project that was designed to explore attitudes of elites and their mutual relationships. Included were the United States and six European countries. Through interviews with forty-four Dutch members of Parliament and seventy-six higher civil servants, the authors have explored the social origins, values, and career patterns of these members of the political leadership, as well as elite perceptions of the interrelationships and roles of elites, of political problems, and of the Dutch political system. The result is a study that tells much about the norms, practices, and values—in short, the political culture—of Dutch society.