Political malpractice is an instance of negligent or unethical conduct on the part of an elected official. Like medical malpractice and legal malpractice, the political type involves a breach of duty, and a failure to offer professional services as expected. This negligence usually hurts the taxpayers and citizens whom the politician is accountable to. This term is often thrown around pejoratively in political rhetoric, with politicians accusing opponents of “malpractice” when they really just mean that their opponents have made controversial decisions.
There are a number of different kinds of political malpractice. The most innocent, though not necessarily the least harmful, is negligence. If a politician fails to fully review a bill, for example, and it later turns out to be a disaster, this could be viewed as negligence by the voters. Negligence is sometimes paired with incompetence, an inability to perform the job. When a politician fails to adhere to an expected standard of behavior, this can also be viewed as malpractice.
On the more sinister end of things, political malpractice can involve improper or unethical conduct undertaken deliberately. Accepting bribes is a form of malpractice, as are other activities which demonstrate favoritism to particular constituents or organizations. In some cases, this can result in criminal charges for corruption.
Citizens rely on their elected officials to advocate for them in legislative bodies, and to make good choices which will benefit their communities. When politicians fail to hold up their end of the bargain, this can have unfortunate consequences for the citizens. An accusation of political malpractice indicates that citizens are deeply unhappy with the way in which a politician has handled a situation, and it can threaten a political career.
In some cases, political malpractice can be the grounds for a tort suit. In the law, a tort is a civil wrong, and if proved, such a suit can result in fines and other consequences for the convicted party. When the citizens feel that they have experienced direct harm as a result of political malpractice, many nations allow them to bring suit against their elected officials to recover damages or remove those officials from office. Citizens can also petition their elected officials to lobby for the removal of a superior, such as a President or Prime Minister.