In This Review

The Neoliberal Republic: Corporate Lawyer, Statecraft, and the Making of Public-Private France
The Neoliberal Republic: Corporate Lawyer, Statecraft, and the Making of Public-Private France
By Antoine Vauchez and Pierre France
Cornell University Press, 2021, 204 pp

French President Emmanuel Macron rose to prominence in politics quickly by moving back and forth between the public and the private sector. A graduate of the prestigious civil service training school known as the ENA, he worked first in the French Finance Ministry and then for Rothschild & Co., before becoming a government official, a minister, and then president in 2017. The authors argue that this is a career imaginable in France only in the last few decades, as the country has lowered barriers between the state and business. This shift has led to a flourishing of “in-and-outers”: top officials—few in number but high in prestige—who leave state service to work for private companies and corporate law firms as lobbyists, experts, and arbiters. Vauchez and France document who these people are and criticize their role in undermining effective democratic control. Their analysis, however, lacks concrete examples of how exactly in-and-outers have harmed the public interest. The authors nonetheless close by recommending greater transparency and stronger conflict-of-interest laws, as one finds in other advanced democracies faced with the same phenomenon.