Like other liberal democracies, contemporary France is governed by formal political offices and their incumbents, and by bureaucratic policy-making processes and the staff that service them. Governing France is also a question of accommodating specific norms, customs, practices and perceptions in a country reputed to be conflict-ridden and, on past occasions, ungovernable. French government is characterized by a pervasive tradition that only a strong state can guarantee the republican ideals enshrined in the 1958 Constitution; this is the pact between the state and its citizens. Hence France, by tradition, is a secular state, designed to unite diverse faiths into one republican nation; it is a centralized state, concentrating power tightly around the core executive in Paris by means of an extensive administrative apparatus; France sustains a costly social welfare state, the policy expression of solidarity between citizens of the nation (old and young; employed and unemployed; rural, urban and suburban); and Paris takes its place in the international arena as a nation-state whose citizens are bound by their nationality — their Frenchness — and whose state is sovereign over its own decisions.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Government, Policy-Making and the Republican State
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number