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A manifesto for a more efficient social democratic model

Montreal, May 25, 2009 – An essay titled Manifesto for a Competitive Social Democracy by Marcel Boyer, vice president and chief economist of the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI), says globalization of markets makes it necessary to revitalize social democracy, redefining the roles of governmental and competitive sectors.

The author says that “if social democratic states wish to maintain their social services, they will have to opt for a competitive social democracy that focuses on efficiency.”

He adds that “a switch from traditional social democracy to competitive social democracy will be challenged by many interest groups that have come to confuse their interests with those of society. This will require substantial persuasion and great political courage.”

The Manifesto for a Competitive Social Democracy (159 pp.) may be ordered by post or downloaded and distributed free from CIRANO’s website.

A competitive social democracy (CSD) to overcome the limits of the welfare state

The basic aim of a competitive social democracy (CSD) is to create truly competitive and transparent economic processes in the provision of social services.

With CSD, the government establishes citizens’ needs in social goods and services and handles the required arbitrages. It manages contracts and partnerships for their production and distribution by the competitive sector at the lowest possible cost, in citizens’ best interests.

The competitive sector (private firms, cooperatives, community enterprises, non-profit organizations, etc.) produces these social goods and services under contract with the government sector, using the best possible human and material resources. The motivation is the pursuit of maximum efficiency.

CSD gives citizens the right to economic contestation to replace current providers of these social goods and services through appropriate bidding processes. To reduce costs and promote innovation, contracts to supply social goods and services must go together with rigorous accountability mechanisms, performance incentives and good governance.

New public policies

The manifesto is a true economic education handbook that suggests various public policy reforms in the following key areas: health care, education, employability, municipal services, outsourcing, offshoring, innovation, infrastructure and environment.

Traditional social democracy is outdated

The author says traditional social democracy, currently dominant in the developed economies, obstructs growth opportunities and encourages inefficiency. The blocking of reforms is fuelled by protected corporatist interest groups that hang onto acquired rights, defending sacred cows to the detriment of citizens’ interests.

The author

In addition to his functions at the MEI, Marcel Boyer is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal, where he held the Bell Canada chair in industrial economics. He is currently a fellow of the Centre interuniversitaire d’analyse des organisations (CIRANO) and of the C.D. Howe Institute. He also sits on the board of directors of Quebec’s public-private partnership agency. He is one of the most respected economists in Canada and among the top 5% of the world’s economists most highly recognized for their scientific production and influence, according to the May 2009 RePEc ranking.

The scientific awards and distinctions obtained by Marcel Boyer include the triennial Marcel Dagenais prize for scientific excellence (1985) awarded by the Société canadienne de science économique, the Marcel Vincent prize (2002) from the Association francophone pour le savoir for the exceptional quality of his work in social science, and the Guillaume Budé Medal from the Collège de France. He was elected a member of the Royal Society of Canada (Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada), was president (1990-1991) of the Canadian Economics Association, a member of the National Statistics Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, among other bodies, and a member of the board of directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research in the United States.

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The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and education organization. Through studies and speeches, the MEI contributes to debate on public policy in Quebec and across Canada, suggesting reforms for wealth creation based on market mechanisms.

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Information and interview requests: André Valiquette, Director of communications, Montreal Economic Institute, Tel.: (514) 273-0969 ext.. 2225 / Cell: (514) 574-0969 / E-mail: avaliquette (@iedm.org)

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