The influence of the French Prime Minister in the policy making process, 1981-1991
The institution of the Prime Minister in France remains remarkably understudied. There are many personalised accounts of the work of individual Prime Ministers and their relations with Presidents and government ministers, however, there has been no rigorous attempt to analyse the Prime Minister's overall influence in the governmental decision making process. The aim of this thesis is to provide a systematic analysis of the Prime Minister's influence over the policy making process from 1981-1991. The first chapter examines the existing literature on the core executive in France and identifies six models of core executive operations. Under each of these models the Prime Minister's influence over the decision making process can be seen to differ. In order to determine the validity of these different models, eight public policy decisions are then examined and the role played by the Prime Minister in the preparation of each of them is identified. From this study, it will be argued that the Prime Minister's influence in the policy process was dependent upon his position in relation to three types of constraints: quasi-permanent institutional constraints, conjunctural constraints and momentary constraints. In the final chapter the six models of core executive operations will be reconsidered. It will be argued that, instead of there being a single model which accounts for the Prime Minister's influence over policy making, it is possible to move from one model to another. Each move being caused by a change in his relations with the three types of constraints identified previously.