Prefect (France)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Prefect Michel Morin in uniform with a ribbon buckle

A prefect ( French Préfet ) is in France as the head of a prefecture , usually at the level of a department , the highest representative of the central state there. He wears military uniform and has a military rank.

Word origin

The term comes from the Latin praefectus , from praeficere "to set" and is in the general sense of the word a head or superior.

Function of prefect

The prefectures of France (excluding overseas territories)

The function of French prefect goes back to the time of Napoleon , who had the office established in 1800. The prefect represented the extended arm of the central government in the French départements and was endowed with far-reaching powers that allowed him to administer his department according to the central government guidelines alone. This structure remained even after the Restoration of the Bourbons in 1814/1815.

Until 1982, the prefect was the highest administrative officer in a department . Since the decentralization laws of that year, which transformed the formerly simple administrative subdivisions of the department and commune into full-fledged territorial bodies with their own sphere of activity, the administration of the departments has been led by the elected president of the department council. However, the prefect is still the representative of the French state in the department and is therefore still appointed by the president today.

As the head of the entire decentralized state administration in the département, the prefect is responsible for a staff of up to a thousand people. B. in the creation of driving licenses, passports, vehicle registrations, etc.; As a representative of the central state, he has in particular far-reaching police powers (head of the brigades of the paramilitary national gendarmerie , which is subordinate to the Ministry of Defense and located in the Département , head of the Police nationale , which is subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior and located in the département, and its branches: the riot police CRS and the command of the magistrate subordinate criminal police Police judiciaire ). He can also request support from the domestic secret service DCRI . In this context, the prefect coordinates urban and communal police forces in his department, which are subordinate to the respective mayor. In addition, the prefect is responsible for the local supervision that has become necessary with decentralization . He also has development planning powers.

Rights and obligations

As the representative of the state and the executive organ of politics, the prefect is required to show absolute loyalty to the central government in Paris . This explains why only loyal companions of the respective state president are appointed by him to vacant prefectures.

The prefects have a service apartment (in the prefecture) and a company car . They are only allowed to leave their department with the permission of the President, as they are entrusted with the coordination and management of all security and rescue services in emergencies or disasters.

Sous-préfet and Préfet de région

The management of the arrondissements is incumbent on sub-prefects (French sous-préfets ) who have their seat in the sub-prefecture (French sous-préfecture ). The administration of the arrondissement, in which the main town of the département is located, is headed in personal union by the prefect of the département (i.e. without its own sub-prefect).

In those places that are also prefecture , i.e. the capital of a region , the prefect as regional prefect (French préfet de région ) also represents the interests of the state vis-à-vis the organs of the region.


  • Günter Liehr: France. A neighborhood customer. Ch. Links Verlag, March 2007. ISBN 3861534304