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The new French dice : Metropolitan institution building and democratic issues

Abstract : The French case presents two contrasting profiles of local governance.1 The first one reflects its large number of communes (36,700, as many as in the 14 other member states of the European Union before the last enlargement put together; see Négrier 1999). The second refers to the fact that, in order to address this fragmented administrative-political landscape, around 18,000 structures of inter-communal cooperation have been created – an overcrowding solution for solving overcrowded patterns of government. These structures are generally under local political control, so territorial cooperation has largely depended upon political agreements between local politicians who, for the same reason, have been unable to face the problems induced by metropolisation and urban sprawl. This phenomenon is generally explained as the result of ‘jacobinism’, where the central state seeks to keep cities politically weak in order to preserve its monopoly of power. Such an explanation can be only partially true, for even a Gaullist government in 1971 tried to reduce the number of communes by amalgamation (although it failed dramatically). This problem of amalgamating communes in order to adapt local political boundaries to new policies and urban life goals is not particularly French: extensive reform of local government structures has been successfully implemented only in Northern European countries and Greece (Négrier 2001; Hlepas 2002). Moreover, even in these countries, the amalgamation of municipalities has not achieved convergence between the scale of problems and institutions in metropolitan areas.
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Contributor : Odile Hennaut <>
Submitted on : Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 6:03:43 PM
Last modification on : Friday, February 12, 2021 - 10:26:02 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-02512606, version 1



Emmanuel Négrier. The new French dice : Metropolitan institution building and democratic issues. Hubert Heinelt; Daniel Kübler. Metropolitan Governance in the 21st Century : Capacity, Democracy and the Dynamics of Place, Routledge, 2005, 0-415-33778-X (rel.). - 0-415-49895-3 (br). - 978-0-415-33778-6 (rel.). - 978-0-415-49895-1 (br.). ⟨hal-02512606⟩



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