part of the plan
I fear anonymous coward is right. Watch the shadows on the wall if you want to see what is happening.
here's some scurvey tricks to look out for:
1. rather than do something dodgy, appoint someone with a propensity for said dodginess.
2. folk who yell out when it doesn't go their way and keep their mouth shut when it does; you can try this at home:
If you're playing dice and someone gets a good throw, but it bumps off something before it stops, insist that they throw it again. If they get a poor throw, keep your mouth shut however much it bumped.
Once your puppet has been rumbled, replace him
Mix 1 and 2 together. Find loudmouths of various opinions, and when something happens you don't like, just help the appropriate loudmouth to a more visible platform and then bow to that particular public opinion.
3. Give authority to any sincere minion as long as they serve your purpose; use one of the myriad of laws they must be breaking (who doesn't) against them when they fail to please.
4. Maintain the idea that national politics is the platform through which change is gained.
The truth is, as we have a mostly stable society we don't actually need a very active government, for once in history we can manage ourselves - therefore expect instability to preserve our dependence.