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By Alistair Cole

As a number one ecu state with a specific country culture and old legacy, France has lengthy involved international observers. In fresh a long time, the 'orthodox version' of French politics and policy-making has been challenged through strong forces of globalization, Europeanisation, decentralization, administrative reform and altering styles of state-society kinfolk. during this compelling exam of French politics because the Seventies, Alistair Cole discusses those key demanding situations and identifies the main drivers of swap. He argues that French-style governance is an untidy affair, instead of a smartly ordered and arranged hierarchy, and that, even though adjustments in France are akin to these in different ecu Union international locations, its governance is mediated by way of household associations, pursuits and ideas. The pressures dealing with France are seen via nationally particular lenses and mediated in ways in which make sure that the French polity keeps specified features.

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The chapter begins by setting out in some detail the state-centric model in France and its limits. It then considers in turn administrative modernisation and instrumentation, contractualisation and budgetary reform as attempts by powerful actors at the core of the state to reaffirm their centrality. It concludes by relating the evidence from the state reform case to the framework of analysis defined in Chapter 1. The state-centric model and its limits There is a rich debate among specialists over whether France has a strong state, a weak state or a disjointed state (see Elgie and Griggs 2000 for a good summary).

The core decisions in economic policy are no longer taken at a national level, but are international or global in nature. The state is unable to deal effectively with the global or local demands that this new imagined economy requires. Weakened at the core of its capacity, the state is forced to imagine new solutions for governing national societies, most notably through new forms of central steering that involve the state sharing responsibilities with non-state partners in policy networks. Though state capacity has weakened, the national state remains the level of regulation for social policy, hence it has to imagine innovative responses (Levy 2006).

The Rocard programme of 1988–9 was the best example of such a programme, relying on mobilising agents in pursuit of collectively defined service goals. The Rocard reform created two new instruments that were meant to empower mid-ranking agents: service plans (projets de services) and cost centres (centres de responsabilite´). Service plans involved all staff in ministerial field services in defining key functions and performance indicators by which their action would be judged. By 1991, 470 service plans, which were intended to encourage dialogue within field units, had been signed (Jones 2003).

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