As a leading European nation with a particular state tradition and historical legacy, France has long fascinated foreign observers. In recent decades, the 'orthodox model' of French politics and policy-making has been challenged by powerful forces of globalization, Europeanisation, decentralization, administrative reform and changing patterns of state-society relations. In this compelling examination of French politics since the 1970s, Alistair Cole discusses these key challenges and identifies the key drivers of change. He argues that French-style governance is an untidy affair, rather than a neatly ordered and organized hierarchy, and that, though changes in France are comparable to those in other European Union countries, its governance is mediated by domestic institutions, interests and ideas. The pressures facing France are viewed through nationally specific lenses and mediated in ways that ensure that the French polity retains distinctive characteristics.