Chapter 8: France and Italy
With some institutional features similar to the UK and Portugal, France (at least theoretically) might be a promising PPP candidate. The semi-presidential system of France has – similarly to the system in the UK – been highly centralized for a long time. A first attempt at decentralization was introduced between 1982 and 1984 by the newly elected François Mitterrand, the first socialist president of the Fifth Republic. However, more influential has been the constitutional reform of 2002, in which the regions and their powers for the first time were mentioned in the constitution (Article 72). The municipalities, departments and regions have direct contacts to the central level and have no hierarchical powers among themselves. The regions, for instance, are in charge of policy coordination of the departments and the municipalities, of deliberating on regional development goals and programmes and coordinating inter-regional measures (Zimmermann-Steinhart/Kazmeier 2010: 178). Whereas the regional presidents are elected by the regional assemblies, the prefects of the regions and departments are appointed by central government. At department level the most powerful person is the elected president of the general council (conseil général). At central level, the Senators of the second chamber are indirectly elected by the territorial collectivies; the Senate is less powerful than the National Assembly, which is elected with qualified majority in the first ballot, and simple majority in case of a second ballot. The directly elected, powerful president appoints the prime minister; however, he cannot dismiss him or her without the dissolution of parliament.
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