Are States in contemporary Europe subject to new forms of convergence under the impact of economic crisis, enhanced European steering and international monitoring? Or is the evolution of governance (national and sub-national) driven fundamentally by diverging, mainly domestic pressures? Drawing on extensive new data, the article combines analysis of the State Modernisation and Decentralisation reform programmes of the Hollande-Ayrault administration, drawing comparisons where appropriate with the previous Sarkozy regime. The limits of President Hollande's anti-Sarkozy method were demonstrated in the first 2 years; framing state reform and decentralisation in negative terms prevented the emergence of a coherent legitimising discourse. The empirical data is interpreted with reference to a comparative 'States of Convergence' framework, which is conceptualised as a heuristic device for analysing variation between places, countries and policy fields. The article concludes that the forces of hard convergence are gaining ground, as economic, epistemic and European pressures continually challenge the forces of institutional inertia.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations
- State reform