French Voters’ Verdict: Prioritise Public Services

Geordie Morrison, Robert Liao, Ben O'Keeffe

New polling shows that French voters believe the quality of public services should be a priority and that the Government should work with the private sector to improve them and deliver better value for taxpayer money.

A new report - French Voters’ Verdict: Prioritise Public Services - by the international think tank, the Serco Institute, has found that 76% of respondents felt public services should be made a bigger priority by policymakers, including 33% who felt public services should be ‘much more’ of a priority, and 43% of respondents who felt they should be ‘somewhat more’ of a priority.

Critically in the context of the current parliamentary election, these sentiments were shared by voters of all political persuasions: similar proportions of voters (80%, 79% and 78% respectively) who had backed Mr. Macron, Ms. Le Pen and Mr. Mélenchon in the presidential election’s first round on 10 April felt that public services should be made a bigger priority for France’s policymakers.

The Institute’s polling – which was undertaken in collaboration with independent pollsters, Survation – indicated the importance of high-quality public services to the French electorate. 62% of respondents identified the quality of services as the element of public services which mattered most to them, with 23% saying they felt the cost to taxpayers was the key issue and just 8% reporting they cared primarily about who delivered public services (i.e. the public or private sector). Once again, these sentiments were shared by voters across the political camps, with 65% of Macron and of Mélenchon voters and 50% of Le Pen voters identifying quality as the most important aspect of public services.

With voters prioritising the quality of services above all else, it is perhaps unsurprising that respondents demonstrated strong support for the involvement of the private sector in delivering high-quality, cost-efficient public services. Over two-thirds (68%) of French voters favoured public-private sector collaboration to deliver public services, if this were to result in an improvement to the quality of services and a reduction in costs to taxpayers. Once again, this sentiment enjoyed cross-party support, with large and clear majorities of Macron, Le Pen and Mélenchon voters (75%, 70% and 61% respectively) in favour of state cooperation with private sector partners to raise service quality and reduce taxpayer costs.

Analysis of results from other questions posed in the survey offers insights into why public-private sector cooperation enjoyed such popularity in France. When presented with five important aspects of public service delivery: ‘efficiency’; ‘customer service’; ‘creating innovation’; ‘flexibility’; and ‘productivity’ – respondents identified the private sector as being better than the public sector at delivering each of the five aspects. While perception of the private sector’s performance varied (63% felt the private sector was better equipped to deliver ‘productivity’, falling to 49% who felt this way about ‘flexibility’), in all instances the private sector was regarded as better at delivering these qualities than the public sector, by margins of at least 14 percentage points.

Based on the results of this poll, it is clear that acting to shore up public services would enjoy broad support from voters across the political spectrum, as would working with private sector organisations to achieve this. Indeed, cooperation with private sector partners who are well-equipped to deliver services may help maintain or improve living standards in France without being accompanied by an increase in the tax burden during a cost of living crisis.

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You can find the data tables here.

Read the full report here

Download the full report
According to polling from the Serco Institute, French voters say quality public services are a priority and want to see more government-private sector collaboration to drive improvements

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