Swiss attitudes towards the forthcoming revision of postal legislation
The Swiss public attaches reasonable importance to the provision of the basic service and does not want to see changes to Swiss Post's public service mandate. Swiss Post's plans to expand PostFinance's business activities remain controversial, however. The general public does not support plans for deregulation of the letter market.
Deregulation of postal markets in Europe, changes in customer behaviour and new communication technologies have also had an impact on the Swiss postal market. A few years ago these developments moved the Federal Council to set in motion a full-scale revision of postal legislation. In May of this year, the Council submitted a dispatch proposing complete deregulation to the Swiss Parliament. But what does the Swiss public think about public postal service? How does it rate the proposals to restructure PostFinance and deregulate the letter market? To answer these questions, on behalf of Swiss Post the research institute gfs.berne conducted a representative survey of 1,206 residents from all three language regions of Switzerland and analysed the results.
Swiss value high quality basic service
When considering priorities for the upcoming revision of postal legislation, the general public puts safeguarding the public service aspect ahead of all other planned reforms. Around eight out of ten respondents are of the opinion that the basic postal service in Switzerland should remain in its current form. As many as nine out of ten strongly believe that a nationwide post office network is necessary for the economy to function properly. Six out of ten respondents think that the Swiss post office network is sufficiently dense, and seven out of ten believe that postal agencies can help to safeguard the survival of local businesses.
Deregulation of letter market rejected
A majority (57%) believe that the planned complete deregulation of the letter market makes very little or no sense at all. Two thirds of those questioned agree with the opinion that deregulation of the letter market would weaken the financing of the post office network. Six out of ten perceive market deregulation as a risk that would disadvantage peripheral regions of Switzerland. Around half fear job losses if deregulation goes ahead.
PostFinance expansion remains controversial
A relative majority of 47% of the population believes that the expansion of Swiss Post's financial services to include the provision of loans and mortgages would be sensible or very sensible, while 42% expressed opposition to this view in one form or another. A significant minority (48%) thus also believes that any attempt by Swiss Post to enter the lending business would be too risky. On the other hand, a small majority of 53% is in agreement that Swiss Post should support the economy by offering loans. In addition, 51% are in favour of Swiss Post using funds currently invested abroad for loans in Switzerland instead.
High credibility ratings for Swiss Post
Swiss Post is firmly rooted in the minds of the population. Nine out of ten respondents think of Swiss Post as part of their national identity. Where further development of Swiss Post is concerned, the public considers Swiss Post employees to be the most credible. Eight out of ten respondents rate them as either credible or very credible. The vote of confidence in Swiss Post as a company was almost as high. The plans to bring all Swiss Post's employee contracts under private law in the revised legislation, is considered sensible by two thirds of those questioned.
gfs.berne research institute
The research institute gfs.berne was established in 2004 as an independent joint-stock company, replacing the former "Politics and State" branch of the GfS Research Institute. Claude Longchamp has been its Managing Director for 13 years. The focus of the institute's work is on applied empirical social research in the three fields of politics, communication and society. The most widely known products of the gfs.berne research institute include the VOX analyses of federal referendums produced in collaboration with the political sciences departments of the Universities of Berne, Geneva and Zurich, the Health Monitor, and the Swiss Worry Barometer. The gfs.berne research institute has a staff of ten and its annual turnover in 2008 was around three million Swiss francs.
Claude Longchamp is a political scientist, Head of Institute and Chairman of the Board of Directors of gfs.berne. In addition to his work for gfs.berne, Claude Longchamp also lectures at various universities, including the University of Zurich, the University of St. Gallen, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, and the MAZ Swiss School of Journalism.