Dictionnaire Constitutionnel

Authors: Duhamel & Mény
Summary: The term centralism is dealt in this entry together with its conceptual opposite in about 325 words.
This conceptual couple is a very useful starting point in order to look at the state and its relationships with the peripherical powers. These latter are indeed very limited in their action capacity where centralization, i.e. the central state control on the whole public administration, tends to suffocate local associative and democratic forms (Tocqueville).That is the French model of a strong state opposed to the English weak, i.e decentralized, state model which encourages the political autonomy of local life.
However, French centralist tradition, inherited form the monarchic era and continued during the Republic, began to weaken in the 1980s when a wide reform was adopted. Its aim was to decentralize administrative functions and to give peripheries an administrative apparatus and autonomous political authorities. Anyway, this competence transfer led to a rebirth of a local notability with considerable political influence and that brought to a reconsideration of decentralization advantages.