Political interest groups
Political Interest Groups
Nowadays, in our rat race, we cannot spend even a day without getting at least a piece of information concerning policy. Appearing of the new reality in the social life is caused by establishment of democratic society. However, most of us still are not aware of the peculiarities and the differences between some political units. That is why, it is extremely important to detect the distinctive treads of their diversity. Thus, let us begin with discussing political interest groups.
It should be taken into consideration that political group of interest is not similar to a political party. In order to justify this fact, it would be better to provide the definition of these two completely different political units. These definitions can be taken from Danzigers book. He states that the common interest the group pursues is a political objective an interest in a particular area of public policy where action might be taken (Danziger, 2013, p. 68). Since it concerns such category as a political party, the author says that a political group seeks not merely to influence political decisions, but also to place its members in the actual roles of government (Danziger, 2013, p.68). The above-indicated statements show that political party and political group of interest should not be identified as equal notions.
The majority of political interest groups intend to meet the common objective of having an influence on allocation of public values.
Read also: "Academic Book Review: How to Complete It"
Political discussion in America often involves negative references to special interests. These special interests groups are organized groups that play an active part in politics, especially through giving money to parties and candidates in elections. They also lobby elected lawmakers and government officials in an attempt to influence new laws and public policy. Some special interests groups act in their economic self-interest (e.g. manufacturers associations, unions, farmers groups, etc.). Another special interest groups act on behalf of particular parts of society (e.g. National Organization for Women, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, AARP, and American Indian Movement). Other groups are dedicated to public causes or policies (e.g. Sierra Club, National Rifle Association, American Civil Liberties Union, and National Right to Life Committee). Many of these groups have millions of dollars available to spend on influencing the political process. The question is whether money corrupts the political system. Are legislators more concerned with pleasing donors and lobbyists than with responding to the will of average citizens?
In order to answer these questions, it would be wise to provide all pros and cons of the activities of such interest groups.
First of all, interest groups may provide some benefits while influencing decision making process. The reason of it is sharing some valuable knowledge and insight data on important issues. Secondly, a number of prominent scientists expressed a point of view that in transition countries, lobbying through interest groups may be an alternative instrument of influence with the help of corruption. Adequately regulated lobbying causes this. Moreover, if there is an increase in income level in a firm, this firm tends to use lobbing instead of paying bribe.
Nevertheless, one should consider the problem from another perspective. The public, in general, tends to believe that activities of political interest groups still have a negative impact on the decision-making of legislative bodies. For example, many people suppose that donating is nothing more then legal corruption. These interest groups have an intention to show their activities as close cooperation by making hosting receptions and campaign donations, providing research, etc.
From these facts, one may conclude that interest groups are rather negative phenomena, but their activities should not be banned. We cannot ignore that fact that it is an important mechanism, which helps citizens to express their ideas, needs, and views on the legislators. Moreover, decentralization of political power of the states and outskirts is known as a federal system: citizens of association often begin to work on state and local levels and later, began to gather in national organizations. Thus, decentralization promotes various interest groups.
In addition to this, It would be impossible to talk about any kind of freedom including freedom of speech, press, etc. if the activities of interest groups were banned. That is why; there should not be any illegal obstacles to existence of those political units.
One must admit that still, there should be some regulation in order to achieve legal consequences of those activities. For this reason, it would be better to follow the examples of some countries. For instance, in the USA, there is Lobby Disclosure Act enforced in 1995. All lobbyists are obliged to register their donations disclosing a wide range of information such as their identities and of their organization, identities and business addresses of clients, issues lobbied on, their income(per client), total lobby expenditures every three months) (Martini, 2012, p.6). In addition to this, civil society and media have an opportunity to provide help in monitoring this information, as it is available upon request.
Considering Canada, there, such kind of document is called Lobbying Law. It is said that members of government are not allowed to engage in lobbying activities with the Federal Government for the period of five years after they leave office (Martini, 2012, p.6).
It is important to emphasize is the laws in the European Union. The document that regulates the relationship concerning lobbying is called The Code of Conduct for the European Members. This Code provides many strict rules of disclosing information, for example, about financial interest. Moreover, it is prohibited to receive money in return of lobbying making some political decisions. In addition to this, there is a limited level of the sum of a gift: 150 Euros.
It is quite clear from these observations that countries have elaborated these codes in order to decrease the negative impact of interest group actions on decision making of legislative bodies. The measures that have been taken are extremely important in establishing the boundaries of acceptable political actions of interest groups. It is important to make a start, and the most indispensable criteria for the limits of interest groups influence should be transparency of their actions. Moreover, publicity and media should pay attention to the actions they take in order to prevent some illegal ones.
Thus, it is up to everybody to decide whether the existence of political interest groups is a positive phenomenon of not, but to draw the conclusion, it should be said that they play a crucial role in establishing democracy in society as they provide legislative bodies with all necessary information about interests of society. Nevertheless, there is still an obstacle which is a negative influence of such information on the policy making process. However, where there is a will there is a way, and elaborating the proper laws, which would secure the transparency of political interest groups actions, is a solution to this problem.
- InfoUSA 光碟片 (2010-2011) | 美國在台協會
- Influence of interest groups on policy-making