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The professional community of policy experts takes it for granted that all governments seek to strengthen their policy capacity, considering it a key indicator and requisite of their success. Yet this assumption is far from universal, even in some European Union countries with long and complex institutional histories. If we look at the informed and explicit use of policy analysis tools in France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, we have to conclude that this paradigm is not completely integrated into their governmentality. In these countries, three disciplinary approaches warrant especial attention as generators of competencies recognized as usable knowledge for public decisions: ‘law,’ ‘public finance’ and ‘public administration.’ Where the standard operating procedures of democratic institutions appear to be fully defined on the basis of these three categories, the inclusion of the policy perspective encounters major difficulties. In these contexts, the most important obstacle is the fear that the new paradigm will threaten the balance among the constitutional bodies, especially to the detriment of the legislature, and that it will constrict the political leadership. This explains why some countries, such as France and, most recently, Italy, have attempted to resolve the impasse by resorting to the strongest of legitimations: inclusion in their constitutions of public policy evaluation as a function of Parliament. This choice is certainly important, but in itself it does not guarantee recognition of the policy paradigm as a science for democratic institutions.
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