French inter-governmental relations during the Covid-19 crisis: between hyper-centralism and local horizontal cooperation


  • Du Boys Céline
  • Bertolucci Marius
  • Robert Fouchet


  • Intergovernemental relations
  • Local governments
  • Hyper-centralism
  • Network governance
  • Covid-19
  • Crisis
  • France
  • IGR

document type



This article analyses the Covid-19 crisis management in France through the prism of intergovernmental relations (IGR) between the central State, its deconcentrated services, and local governments (LGs). The period from January to October 2020 is studied through reports and analyses from various local and national actors. Three phases are identified in which two antagonistic types of IGR opposed each other, swinging between presidential hyper-centralism and more horizontal and informal action at the local level. We argue that the crisis revealed the challenges of decentralisation to the French government-centred model. We draw preliminary conclusions on how the failures of the State response during the 'first wave' gave voice to LGs, who often implemented reactive and innovative responses, and reinforced their demand for a greater territorialisation of public action. We also suggest that the crisis has enabled the development of horizontal network governance at the local level.

more information