Since the 19th century municipalities have started to offer local services like lighting, water-sewerage, waste collection and public transport. In the first decade of the 20th century this policy has been named municipal socialism: is it a significant world or just an emphasis on a rather trivial and natural phenomenon? Basically, who can manage local service better than the mayor?
What was the dominant governance of municipal public services in Europe and USA in those times: how were officials appointed or hired? Where there a form of control or regulation? Did the citizen's voice play a role?
Let's jump into the 70s and the 80s, in particular in Europe when a wave of liberalization fever overwhelmed not only national networks like electricity, railways, telecommunication and gas but also the local services. This liberalization fever has produced a lot of academic stuff and some policy reforms, in particular in Europe. Following also specific directives States have been obliged to put local services in a competitive context through tenders. Lawyers work on technical documents and specifications of contracts flourished to prepare municipalities for international bids for water, transport and waste services with the participation of local, national and international competitors.
At the end of the story, nevertheless, the final outcome of this effort has been very poor, in practical terms: incumbents are rarely removed in favor of new entrants. 40 years after the fever a doubt arises: maybe a lot of fudge, in the academy and policy, has been done around a very trivial issue: offering local services to the citizens in an acceptable way. Is it possible to outline the main features of future scenarios after Covid-19 disruption in the economics and organization of local public service?