Building: VMP 5 Floor: 2 Room: 2101
In the last two decades, lobbying has become a universally acknowledged political activity in Europe, both at the European Union and national levels. While the profession itself continues to carry a mark of ‘shadiness’, lobbyists are now an accepted part of the liberal democratic political systems. This acknowledgment of lobbying as a legitimate professional field comes from its real-world usefulness. Lobbyists are valuable for people outside of the governing bodies, as they voice the people’s concerns to the government. For elected representatives, lobbyists supply expert information and knowledge. However, if lobbyists are to be perceived as truly legitimate components of the governmental process, they must also be regulated like other parts of the democratic government. Lobbying needs to be transparent, to avoid enlarging the space for corruption of public officials and eroding public confidence in the system, but also to maintain a free and fair playing field. This panel will examine the issue of formal and informal lobbying structures and rules in politics. In doing so, it focuses on the role of finance in personal networks of politicians and business people. The underlying assumption in present research is that transparent policy making strengthens the democratic rule and democratic progress. The papers included in the panel show how policy and political decisions are often influenced by illicit incentives such as money or personal favours. They deal with both developed Western and developing non-Western countries, showing that while differences between the regions still remain, most of the illicit incentives may be found in both.