On the threshold of political corruption : the case against lobbying in Germany
Political lobbying is a recent and widespread phenomenon that arises in countries where many big and economically important companies are located. It is a relatively new phenomenon and the term 'lobbying' has featured in political science literature only since the 1990s.¹ Lobbying groups are ubiquitous and are located in the centres of competence where political decision-making takes place.² One can distinguish two main aims of lobbying: lobbying for a government contract (Beschaffungslobbyismus) and lobbying with regard to laws (Gesetzeslobbyismus).³ The focus of this paper is on the latter. It is concerned to analyse how lobbyists influence the lawmaking process and what the consequences are for society. Lobbying is the influence on decision makers and decision-making processes through the provision of information.⁴ Politicians need information to contribute to ministerial or 1 parliamentary discussions and for their decisions in elections and votes. They often do not have the capacity to collect enough information. That is when the lobbying groups become important. They provide the politicians with information needed and thus ensure that their point of view ends up in the draft law and later in the law.⁵ There is also lobbying in the private sector. Representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, for instance, try to influence doctors by giving them free specimens and computer programmes, paying for education workshops and other benefits with the aim that the doctors prescribe the products of the pharmaceutical companies.⁶ To analyse this aspect of lobbying as well would exceed the scope of this paper and will not be attempted. An interesting aspect is that lobbying has become more integrated and international. Lobbyists do not work exclusively in their countries of origin. In the EU it is as important to lobby decision makers in the European institutions as to lobby them in the national institutions because a significant part of politics is decided now in Brussels.⁷ Furthermore, lobbyists from different countries meet to harmonise their lobbying strategies. In Brussels, for example, American and German lobbyists meet regarding restrictive export rules into the US and the EU. The American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) is an American interest group that works in Brussels to ensure the effective representation of US businesses in Europe.⁸ Nevertheless, the national level remains important for lobbyists. The policy of the EU relies always on national policy and through the Council of Ministers - as the most powerful part of the EU - national interests are represented strongly in Brussels. Directives, moreover, have to be implemented on a national level. One can see that national lobbying is also an important tool to influence European policy.⁹ The scope of this paper, however, is to shed light on lobbying activities in the Federal Republic of Germany. Therefore, lobbying in the EU will play a lesser role.