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Trust and Transparency in Multilevel Governance: New Findings from the French Regions

Local Government
Public Policy
Public Opinion
Jeanne Chauvel
Institut d'Études Politiques de Rennes I
Jeanne Chauvel
Institut d'Études Politiques de Rennes I
Alistair Cole
Cardiff University

The issues of Trust and transparency lay at the heart of contemporary debates regarding governance and democracy. Measures of trust and transparency (in the national leadership, in the conduct of professional politicians, in diffuse affect for the political regime) have been generally been applied to the national or EU levels. The paper is drawn from a larger project (funded by the ESRC and the ANR) that captures processes of trust and transparency in multi-level governance by comparing regional- and city level dynamics in six regions in three EU states (Germany, France, UK).

This specific communication relates to preferred levels of service delivery (cities, regions, nationwide and EU) in multilevel governance in France. The delivery of public services involves rival imperatives of functional service delivery (who has the capacity to deliver services?), local political choice (who decides and delivers?), stand- alone fiscal autonomy and its limits (who pays the piper?), managerial accountability (who regulates), all in the context of a multi-level legal order. Repeated reforms since 2010 have indeed attempted to introduce more clarity into France’s complex sub-national mosaic and to improve accountability and transparency for decision-making. The reform of the regional map (the reduction in the number of regions from 22 to 13 in 2015), coming on the back of two consequential territorial reforms implemented during the Hollande presidency (the law on the metropolises of 2014 and the 2015 law on the territorial organisation of the Republic), was supposed to give more power and more legitimacy to the Regions. This paper presents findings from a major new survey of France’s new regions that was carried out across France from October 7-11th 2016 (You Gov, n. 3003). In the context of ongoing crisis of trust, citizens look to urban and national levels of government to provide protection.
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