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The principal local representative of the French state and member of an elite administrative corps (see Grandes Écoles). Following the decentralization reforms implemented by the Socialists in March l982, the prefect is no longer chief executive of the region or department, the administrative and financial powers having been transferred to local assemblies and their elected chairmen. Prefects are still responsible for coordination of regional planning and for supervision of the public services and any overall loss of power is probably more apparent than real. They were always constrained by local pressures, liable to frequent transfer, and subject to conflicting demands from centre and periphery. Their powers are now better defined and they enjoy more job security.


Subjects: Politics.

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