A Profession or a Position? Recruitments and Careers of the Territorial Representatives of the State in Nowadays Europe

Jean-Michel Eymeri-Douzans & Gildas Tanguy (2020)

In: Gildas Tanguy & Jean-Michel Eymeri-Douzans (eds.), Prefects, Governors and Commissioners. Territorial Representatives of the State in Europe. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 147-166

Abstract. This chapter examines the careers of the territorial representatives of the State. By analysing their trajectories, we identify three ideal-types. The first is the ‘career prefect’, who follows standardized, codified career paths marked out by expected professionalism. In France, Italy, Romania or Turkey, they even belong to an administrative ‘corps’, with its specific traditions and social codes. In such cases, the prefectoral career is similar to a system where the prefectoral esprit de corps normalizes the life of/in the prefectoral institution. The second ideal-type is the ‘functional prefect’, to be found in federal countries (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland) where territorial administrators do not represent the Nation-State but the federated entities and have a low-profile role. Accessing that position comes after a long administrative or political career, the ‘socio-political capillarity’ of the candidates playing a major role (municipal or provincial political experience; responsibilities in parties and unions, etc.). The third ideal-type is the ‘dignified prefect’, to be found in Nordic countries: the office-holders access to the dignity/position of county governors as a result of a national (not local) political career, rewarded by their appointment as governors entrusted with an intense and non-partisan mission of incarnation, compromise facilitator and go-between.

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