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Form of government and lobbies in UK and UE. A comparative perspective.

di - 21 Febbraio 2013
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1) Form of government where Political parties are able to understand social interests and to represent them in Parliament, having a strong and influential structure that filters different interests even if some interests cannot be represented (i.e. because there is an electoral system that “cuts off” some parties from the Parliament). In this contest, regulations have to make transparent the relationship between parties, Parliament and lobbies. And not to guarantee participation of lobbies, because major part of interests are already represented by political parties. We can conventionally describe it as “Interest-transparent” Form of government.
2) Form of government where Political parties are unable to represent social interests because there is a crisis of their legitimacy, or they have a weak structure, or they exist only during the electoral campaign. Public bureaucracies have an unspecific education (generically trained) and only the lobbies can represent different interests. In this context, regulations have to guarantee not only the transparency of the process but also the participation of lobbies to the public decision process. So bureaucracies have specific information, especially technical, politicians understand the concrete interests of the community, and the public decision process has the right legitimacy. In this case we are in the “Interest-guaranteed” Form of government.
Assuming that Pressure group are part of democratic process, the “rules of the game” within the lobbyist and the decision makers are placed become fundamentals in order to guarantee an effective and general representation of the interests. So “to assert that the organization and activity of powerful interest groups constitutes a threat to representative government without measuring their reaction to and effects upon the widespread potential groups (unorganized interests) is to generalize from insufficient data and upon an incomplete conception of the political process” (Truman D., 1951, pp. 515-516).
The point become not “if” lobbies exist, but “how they participate” in the political process. And “how” can be related to several aspects: for example, which kind of relationship is it possible between lobbies and public decision makers? Who are the “public decision makers”? How to distinguish different lobbies (economic, non-profit, social…)? How to guarantee the transparency of the process and a fair participation of every lobby? The analysis of lobbying (subjects and activities) can be approached in different ways, and many other questions are related to the theme, like the cost of lobbying or its impact on the society. These interesting aspects, ranging from sociology, through politology, to more properly economic considerations, are not strictly related to the Constitutional law profile. But herein it must be pointed out the multifaceted considerations which can be related to the lobbying studies, which represent a further fascinating element of this research’s theme.

3. Form of Government and models of regulation of lobbying
In order to clarify the legislative negotiation’s aspects, States tried to regulate the (existing) relationship between lobbies and public decision-makers through the regulation of two aspects: (1) the first is addressed to the public decision-makers, and concerns “Internal” rules; (2) the second is addressed to the lobbyists, and regards “External” rules. Related to them, different issues have been considered like, respectively, (1) rules governing the legislative procedure, codes of conduct and codes for parliamentarians, rules governing the constitution of Inter-parliamentary groups; (2) rules for lobbyists and for the private financing of politics.
On these basis, two regulations “models” of lobbying can be identified: (a) Transparency, (b) Participation (Petrillo, 2011).

3.1 The Transparency model: the UK case
In such a case, the aim of regulation is to guarantee the transparency of the public decision process, and to disclosure the reasons behind the adoption of a law and of the people who influenced it. Regulations try to make the process transparent, and not to engage stakeholders in the decision process. A metaphor can help to see the effects of the “transparency regulation”, imaging a room with “crystal walls” where decisions are taken. Inside the room, there are decision makers. Outside, lobbyists, citizens and anyone can see what happens inside, those who participate in the legislative process and what they says. Sometimes, it happens that someone from outside can be invited, as stakeholder, to get in and say what he thinks about the matter. Everything happens under the eyes of people outside. Canada and United Kingdom regulations correspond to this model.
The practice of lobbying in order to influence political decision is a legitimate and necessary part of the democratic process” (House of Commons, 2009). Starting from this consideration, we can easily understand the way London has ruled the relationship between Parliament and lobbies, which is strictly related to factors as the electoral system or the relation between electorate and public decision-maker. Today, there is still a lack of an organic discipline on the Pressure groups, but there are different rules operating on the both side that can be classified under the above mentioned “Internal” or “External” distinction.
Regarding the exam of the most relevant “Internal” rules, we can start from 1839, when the Speaker of the House of Commons introduced the duty for parliamentarians to declare any kind of conflict of interests beyond the theme under discussion in Parliament. That practice has been integrated in 1830 with the approval of a motion stating that “it is contrary to the law and usage of Parliament that any Member of this House should be permitted to engage, either by himself or any partner, in the management of private bills before this or the other House of Parliament, for a pecuniary reward” (House of Commons, meeting of 26 February, 1830).

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