This paper suggests that efficiency considerations do not explain why privatization policy is so appealing to the centre-left parties in Europe. Divestitures of state owned corporations in the UK and elsewhere were implemented by right wing parties with the over-arching objective to defeat trade unions. The productivity and welfare changes were modest or negligible, sometimes negative. Why reformers of the left support privatization? The paper suggests that efficiency motivations are weaker than usually said by a mostly biased privatization empirical literature and by free-market apologetics. The reason lies in nature of the privatized corporation, which is very far from a competitive enterprise. The paper conjectures that the centre-left seeks by its support to privatization to gain political rents. This implies to surrender financial rents to the globalized financial actors, to be paid out by political support or neutrality to centre-left government. This strategy is at high risk of be captured by the financial elites and poses a threat to democracy. A state without ownership, with a marginal role in service provision, becomes a tax, - and – transfer, law, - and – order state, with little democratic legitimacy. Public provision of service should be reformed as an explicit social inclusion mechanism, based on clearly stated policy goals and involvement of users. The EU should instead build on flexible tools to achieve common goals in terms of citizen’ access to those services that have a community-building content
Privatization policy, European centre-left politics
In order to set up a list of libraries that you have access to,
you must first login
or sign up.
Then set up a personal list of libraries from your profile page by
clicking on your user name at the top right of any screen.