3.2 Overall description of the system
France is a social and democratic Republic directed by the President. The principal representative bodies are the French National Assembly, the Senate and the Economic and Social Council. The President appoints the Prime Minister, who is responsible for forming the government and whose task it is to define and implement the nation's policies. The government is made up of ministers, each with specific responsibilities, who exercise their authority over the national departments relevant to their portfolios. Within the government, the Minister of Culture and Communication participates in the preparation and implementation of national policies and is specifically responsible for cultural affairs.
The Minister of Culture and Communication exercises political authority over the directorates and other services of the Ministry of Culture and Communication. It is the minister's task to define the overall priorities and guidelines for ministerial initiatives and, accordingly, decides how funds are to be distributed between the directorates and oversees their allocation. The distribution of funds is determined during the drafting of the budget and is subject to the overall guidelines defined by the government. The budget must receive parliamentary approval.
A certain number of other ministries allocate substantial funds to the provision of cultural services: for the education and training of students and for educational museums in the field of history and natural sciences (Ministry of Education and Research); within the framework of public education and animation (Ministry of Health, Youth and Sports), for certain cultural heritage (monuments and museums under the Ministry of Defence), for the export of French culture abroad (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and for scientific and technical culture (Industry, Agriculture), etc.
Local administration in France is the responsibility of directly elected local authorities (régions, départements and town councils). They are not answerable to the state and, in compliance with the laws of the Republic, are independent of each other. France's devolution laws define each council's scope of activity.
Local authorities - the town councils in particular - are highly active in the cultural field. Town councils manage most local cultural facilities and organise a large number of cultural events in their area (e.g. festivals), partly in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Communication.