The Prefects and Provincial France

The Prefects and Provincial France

The Prefects and Provincial France

The Prefects and Provincial France

Excerpt

This book is doubly presumptuous. It is written by an Englishman about an institution peculiarly French, and by a layman about problems comprehensible only within a framework of administrative law. My excuse is that the subject is one of first-rate importance, and that no attempt has yet been made by any French scholar to treat it as a whole. There are text books on administrative law by eminent jurists, there are some memoires and biographies of past and present members of the Prefectoral Corps, and there are some detailed technical studies (mainly legal theses) on specific aspects of the work of Prefectures. This material is, however, for the most part either fragmentary or legalistic. No clear picture of the Prefectoral Corps at work, with its administrative and political preoccupations, and its clashes of interests and personalities, emerges even from a detailed examination of the published material. This has had to be supplemented by interviews and discussions with men belonging to or connected with the Corps.

This study does not claim to be authoritative. However, until someone who has actively participated in prefectoral administration distils for the public the essence of a prefectoral career, we shall be forced to rely on the observations of outsiders and on technical essays on minor points.

This book is divided into five chapters each dealing with a particular aspect of prefectoral administration. The first chapter is a resumé of the part the Corps has played in history; the second is a general background to the political and administrative structure within which the Corps works today. The remaining three chapters are concerned with the chefs de cabinet, the Sub Prefects and the Prefects. I have not given any technical exposition of French administrative law; this would have made the study too long, and my main concern has been to study the Corps in the general . . .

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