“The proposals of a distressing banality of the Court of Auditors”
Ion reading the 2023 annual public report of the Court of Auditors devoted to decentralization, submitted on March 10, invites us not to confuse the severity of the judgment with…
Ion reading the 2023 annual public report of the Court of Auditors devoted to decentralization, submitted on March 10, invites us not to confuse the severity of the judgment with the radicality of the subject. If indeed the essment of forty years of decentralization is most critical, it is in the name of an analysis grid and proposals of a distressing banality.
Should we once again reinforce the local elected officials in the lament of an insufficiently decentralized country, in the middle of the ford? Isn’t it time to acknowledge that in a way France is actually one of the most decentralized countries in the world, because of its communalist bias?
With regard to our European neighbors in particular, the post-decentralization French landscape is characterized above all by the perpetuation of our historical model structured by the bipolarity State/communes, national Jacobinism and local Jacobinism crumbled into 35,000 mutually reinforcing communes. And therefore, what we suffer from is not insufficient decentralization, but a structural weakness of our intermediate levels.
The expenses of the municipalities and intermunicipalities weigh one and a half times those of the departments and regions combined, according to the Court of Auditors. However, only the latter would be able to take the place of the State to implement major national policies in a differentiated way, and to “decolonize the province”as Michel Rocard suggested in 1966.
An exhausted founding model
Can we still follow the Court of Auditors in what constitutes the red thread of its reform proposals, that is to say the clarification of the missions and competences between the levels of local authorities, without recalling that this principle is at the heart of the successive decentralization laws since 1982? It is rather necessary to wonder about this paradox: the more the legislator increases the specialization of competences, the more the practices highlight the entanglement of these last. Two lessons could then be drawn from this observation.
First of all, this specialization of skills (to some the economy, to others the social…) goes against the process of political legitimation of the local elected representative, of his political mandate: one is not elected because ‘we manage the colleges well, but because we take good care of the territory. And on the other hand, this sectoral specialization of skills made sense when decentralization was conceived in the 1960s: this territorial Taylorism was then a reflection of the mode of industrial organization of society as a whole.
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