The French state and its territorial challenges

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Cole, Alistair Mark (2012)

This article focuses upon the territorial challenges to the French state. There is a genuine policy puzzle in terms of how to join up separate agencies of the state that is far from unique to France. Introducing new evidence based on interviews with high ranking officials, politicians and representatives of territorial policy communities in 2010, the main body of the article focuses upon the two main territorial reforms of the Sarkozy presidency, the reform of the territorial state, and the local government reform. These cases reveal an original attempt to craft a political discourse based on public sector productivity and state puissance. The article explores the tension between synoptic models of reform, focused on the expectation of rapid and quantifiable macro-level change that suits the short-term returns of the political cycle; and institutionalized processes of meso-level implementation, with different timescales, logics of appropriateness and configurations of actors.
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