France’s New Political Elite Against the Old Recruitment System

France’s New Political Elite Against the Old Recruitment System

Gaman-Golutvina O.V.,

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), Moscow, Russia; HSE University, Moscow, Russia; Russian Political Science Association, Moscow, Russia; RF Civic Chamber, Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 250180 | ORCID: 0000-0002-2660-481X | RESEARCHER_ID: E-4046-2012

Solov’eva D.D.,

Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia,

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2021.06.05

For citation:

Gaman-Golutvina O.V., Solov’eva D.D. France’s New Political Elite Against the Old Recruitment System. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No. 6. P. 60-72. (In Russ.).

The article was prepared in the framework of a research grant funded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation (grant ID: 075-15-2020-930).


The article analyzes the French experience of institutionalization of the political elite’s recruitment process. Although there are various channels for the recruitment of the French political elite, the education system is central in creating a framework, norms and procedures to train civil servants who make up the core of the political elite. The main issue is how appropriate it is for the state to have an active engagement in the process, characterised by the formation of a separate ecosystem of schools empowered to train the political elite, unequal financing, specific process of employment. On the one hand, such a system is increasingly close to meritocratic ideals, ensures the foreseeability of methods and expertise of the ruling class. On the other hand, it provokes criticism about the alleged closeness of the political elite, the divide between elite’s mindset and lifestyle and those of the majority of population. The “yellow vests” protest against the Parisian political elite fueled discontent, making the government commit to reform what is widely thought to be the main pillar of elitism in the French education – the National School of Administration. The article analyzes whether ENA’s reform really changes the recruitment procedure and makes the political elite more open and representative, leading to a comprehensive reform of elite education. It studies the key recruiting education institutions, calculates the concentration indexes and assesses the real role of the National school of Administration in the process of recruitment. While studying the strengths and weaknesses of the system and the French government’s efforts to mitigate them, the French experience characterized by a high level of institutionalization is compared with the British one, where the education system is as efficient a channel of recruitment, despite being less regulated. In conclusion, the authors suggest possible measures for an optimal reform of the elite education system in order to preserve its advantages. 

political elite, elite recruitment, education system, higher schools, training of civil servants, National School of Administration, E. Macron’s policy.


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Content No. 6, 2021

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