The ideological shift towards decentralization on the part of the French left was partly a result of their long period in opposition which made it necessary for them to develop an ideology distinct from that of the right. Since the 1950s, the regional dimension of French public policy-making, particularly in the area of national planning, had grown by fits and starts. By the late 1970s, consultative regional councils, albeit with limited powers, had already been established. The ‘new’ regionalization of the planning process by the Socialist Party between 1981 and 1983 was justified by two main arguments. Evaluating the impact of the 1982 regional reforms is further complicated by the inherent ambiguity of public policy analysis. The most striking example of the extent to which implementation of the 1982 regional reform has failed to meet objectives concerns the supposed reduction in the powers of the regional prefect.