Posted by: Dirk | April 6, 2007

Lobbying vs. Corruption

Campos and Giovannoni tackle a topic that has received not much attention yet. Their paper Lobbying, Corruption and Political Influence asks whether lobbying and corruption are substitutes or complements. This is a very interesting question. A month ago I had a conversation on this, the main statement being that the Western democracies are no better than developing countries when it comes to corruption, just that they would call it lobbying. Hence the work of Transparency International and other organization would only be an excuse to hit those countries unfairly.

The main point of lobbying is that it’s rule-based (or should be). The worst part of corruption is sometimes not the injustice, but the insecurity of what to expect. If expectations are volatile, people will react. They would invest less, probably spend less, take less risk, and so on. Campos and Giovannoni can confirm that lobbying works better than corruption. And although I don’t like the thought of big lobbies influencing politics (like big tobacco, which campaigned against a general Rauchverbot), I think it is the lesser of two evil. By the way: lobbying works for everybody. Greenpeace has proved it, and a lot of NGOs do it, too. In a way, all of politics is about lobbying. Our political parties are dominated by strong interest groups, like unions, farmers, medical doctors, and so on. This does not work too badly, I think. Still, one has to be careful about the institutional framework.

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