Rivista italiana
Agenzia Informazioni
e Sicurezza Interna





Italiano Tutte le lingue Cerca i titoli o i testi con
GNOSIS 2/2005
Democratic lobbying
as a security factor


In the collective imagination, particularly after the bribe scandals in Italy (tangentopoli), ‘lobby’ is synonymous with a pressure group which operates in the dark, in a grey area between right and wrong, to favour (“grease the wheels”) of hidden interests of financial groups and banks.
In this article, ‘lobbying’ is presented in a completely different light.
There is no pressure ‘behind the scenes’, but there are contributions to the political decision process. These contributions take the form of information and analyses, supplied by specialists who, in this way, can render the final choice more adequate and targeted.
It is a thesis that originates from the American experience, where lobbies are legally credited in both branches of Congress. It sets out to prove that to render transparent, through modern regulations, a mechanism of correct information and not political pressures, can improve –with appropriate choices of industrial policy based on secure data – the security of the ‘Country System.

The assignment to Agusta Westland of the contract for the supply of twenty-three helicopters for the Air Squadron Marine One, the White House service fleet, is a remarkable success for the Italian aeronautics industry, but it is also an extraordinary public case of lobbying woven at the highest institutional level.

photo ansa

In short, a case story which enthusiasts of international commercial law and public affairs can study in detail because some of the most important members of the American and Italian governments, let alone a multitude of influential people from varying levels of responsibility, have all ‘entered the Field’ to pressure and secure the choice of the Italian helicopters over that of the multi-tested American Sikorsky. A highly symbolic victory which praises the Italian loyalty to the alliance with the United States in the complex middle-east situation, but it also praises the Agusta-Finmeccanica executive in their perseverance and ability to out-manoeuvre their highly esteemed American adversary.
This affair, which made headlines also due to the positive image it reflected upon our country, has again turned our attention to the mechanisms of international lobbying. This phenomenon occurs whenever great economic interests are at stake, whether they are public or private (tenders, contracts etc.,) and representatives of national governments ‘enter the Field’ to protect the interests of market and industry.
The success of Agusta Westland opens to them the doors of the rich North Americanaeronautics market, both military and civil; a demonstration that the acquisition of an important supplier contract can have considerable economic and industrial results, not only with reference to the specific order, but for the prospects which are generated for future new markets.
Lobbying, therefore, begins and takes root as a support activity to the interests of industrial groups, a cartel of firms, building contractors’ associations or even to an entire productive sector. The lobby, otherwise defined as interest or pressure groups, have carried out and, probably, will continue to carry out a fundamental role in the political, economic and social dynamics of a country.
In Brussels alone, there are over 10 thousand lobbyists, all united in no less than 3 thousand societies, 500 are the very large enterprises represented through their own people – office personnel, executive staff etc., - and 130 legal offices specialized in Community law. The figures are little known, but emblematic: at least 100 thousand lobbyists operate in Washington, tied directly or indirectly to private associations, legal offices, public relations agencies, communications companies, firms specialized in market and media research and analyses. Obviously, they are not all engaged in lobbyist work in the strictest sense, but thousands are involved in the practices of pressure, negotiating, transacting organized interests, supplying support with regard to information production, defining and interpreting regulations and standards, creating dossiers, gathering facts and statistics, monitoring legislative, informative and formative activities, fund raising for electoral campaigns and so on.

by www.Willard-inter-continental

It was in the lobby of the Hotel Willard in Washington D.C. in the second half of the Nineteenth Century that the term ‘lobby’ acquired the meaning of ‘group of influence’.
It was, in fact, the American President, Ulysses S. Grant who coined the word ‘lobbyist’. He used it to indicate those speculators who waited for him in the hotel lobby in order to obtain support and protection for their interests

The activity of lobbying has a long history and is strictly connected to democratic values and the free market. What is more, it influences and determines the security of the Democratic institutions – how? nsofar as it is correlated to the relations between State, market and civil society and, whereas, it is regulated and therefore transparent and accepted, it helps the process of decision-making and mediation of contrasting interests. It guarantees the rights of an organized group to represent itself in places of decision, e.g. the national institutions, both regional and local.
It is worth remembering that in the United States, lobbying takes the form of a guarantee for the exercising of constitutional rights. American lobbyism was born in 1896 when political components representing the female working class suffered a serious electoral defeat. Since that moment, political mediation (understood in the democratic and western sense of dialectics between parties represented in parliament) leaves room for the creation of administrative agencies who work on behalf of economic groups and social organizations. However, only in 1938, was the new phenomenon given a proper system of rules. It was called The Foreign agents registration, followed in 1946 by the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act, and then the Ethics in Government Act in 1978. Regulation became necessary to counteract the growing role of the pressure groups who, through institutional forms, such as congressional hearings and other forms of contact between public power and lobby, had become a very difficult component in the public decision-making system. The 1946 Law, in particular, aims at the publicizing of lobbyist activities. The American legislator is convinced that lobbying is an integral part of political, economic and financial communities. In other words, it is a natural and non-suppressible phenomenon in the way that each organized groupof interests must be given the faculty of forming ‘policy communities’ i.e. communitieswhich act in accordance with precise objectives. For example: the adoption of favourable fiscal measures, the financing of industrial and commercial works or activities, the institution of new regulations which help the commercialization of a product, and so on.
Very soon, however, the American lobbyist realized that their institutional function had much more importance than they had previously foreseen. The growing weight of the means of mass communication, starting with the television, had made electoral campaigns more exacting and considerably more expensive. The communication techniques and the polling of opinions required increasingly large sums of money. Asa result, the so-called Pacs (Political Action Committees) were created, electoral committees assigned to combine volunteerism with organization. Formidable weaponsfor opinion formation and vote drainage, these Pacs are organized and parcelled on aterritorial scale. They are animated by diligent activists who distribute propaganda material, convince and transport voters on election day and solicit financing.
These structures are frequently quite the opposite of being spontaneous. Often, they are the emanations of trade union, capitalist or professional organizations. These lobbies, therefore, exercise a role of mediation of the interests going to directly influence theformation of the political class. If a pressure group is successful in getting Candidate X elected, then this latter, during the course of his term of office, must answer to those who elected him by protecting the interests of the lobby of reference.
And in Italy? It must be said immediately, that the term ‘lobbying’ in the Italian political-journalistic language and in the collective imagination is, at once, synonymouswith corruption and practices which normally entail the political exchange of favours,votes and/or money. Tangentopoli and the consequent enquiry ‘Clean Hands’ revealed the widespread diffusion of illegal practices – above all, traceable to the relations between politics, parties and economy - and to the degeneration of the ‘democratic pact’, according to which, it is legitimate to exercise a political and social action of information and the formation of political opinion, on the condition, however, that this is not invalidated by corruption or vile unlawful trade.
Luigi Graziano, Professor of Political Science at the University of Torino and authorof several essays on lobbying and democracy, opportunely observes: “where corruptionis prevalent and systematic, there is no room for lobbyism. It is, in its physiology, asocially recognized representation of clear interests, which gives itself, to such ends,a proper political organization” – generally through a legally recognized juridical figure (association, local authority, corporation,…..) a seat in the capital, a team of experts. In Italy, on the contrary, the theme of lobbyist activities has always been experienced with acertain superficiality and a good dose of incompetence. It is a fact that, notwithstanding,repeated debates in the middle 90’s, particularly, following the critical phase of Tangentopoli, the Italian Parliament did not legislate any disposition relative to the regulation of lobbying in Italy although between the VIII and X legislature, numerous proposals of law were presented. “The real problem” – one reads in a note attached to a bill of law presented – “ is not the carrying out of formation activities by one individual or a group of people, in the pursuit of specific interests, but rather the respect for the rules of the game, which in this specific case necessitates complete limpidity of the positions and intended pursuits of each party, without useless simulation and absurd camouflage: democracy fears that which is hidden, the occult, the clandestine, not that which can be seen clearly and publicly by everyone”.
The action of the legislator penetrates the problem immediately: lobbying and democracy, that is, lobbying and State security are aspired to be inseparable. An axiom which, however, is not enough to convince parliamentary groups to proceed with the regulation of the sector. Also, because in Italy lobbying is vaguely assimilated into public relation activities. Such assimilation, it must be clearly pointed out, is a lack of understanding with respect to the professional role of the lobbyist. The absence of a law in this sector and a possible professional official Roll, which recognizes the specificity, ethics, prerogatives, rights and duties of lobby operators, has created great confusion. To organize a party with politicians and entrepreneurs, or spread news through the press by way of a news agency, has no resemblance to the actions of lobbying. At the most, such and other actions could constitute a corollary, a useful communicative support to the managing and to the relations between the various public and private subjects.
On the contrary, The action of lobbying, in exercising the interests of his client, creates a reciprocal recognition of the role: the parliamentary politician is informed and formed of a certain problematic and its requirements: he assumes upon himself the political and institutional responsibility of examining the dossier presented by the lobbyist, asks questions and supplies answers. The lobbyist works with the institution, following the interests of his client ( a company, an association, a private corporation etc.,) but not against the Law, by trying to circumvent it or even worse, by using corruptive or illegitimate methods. In this sense, protecting the interests of his client also safeguards those of the institution because he brings contributions of knowledge and culture from a specific sector, he suggests solutions to problems which, in numerous cases, seize social groups who, in the main, are weak or poorly represented. A typical case could be that of the registration of a life-saving medicine and its reimbursement. The pharmaceutical company has every interest in seeing its medicine registered in a total reimbursement category – just as long as the National Health Organization pays the cost of the medicine for the patient.
To succeed in this intent means to convince the Central Health Institution and furnish valid arguments in terms of medicine characteristics, compliance, cost benefits, a wide area of utilization etc., The lobbyist must support the pharmaceutical company. He must construct a lobby project which will be able to sensitize the politicians and the institutional decision-makers as to the virtue of the request . To do this, the lobbyist will look for political support, but also in association with the patient and the media, operating a triangulation of interests all pulling together to achieve the same objective. Briefly outlined, the patient is the weak side in this triangle, but the principally interested in the success of the project; the commercial advantage of the pharmaceutical company coincides with that of the patient to whom the medicine is directed. The task of the lobbyist, therefore, is to establish a two-way flow of information that will create a necessary climate of agreement around the nature and utilization of the medicine. Such action must be done in a totally transparent way, using all the instruments that the parliamentary institution puts at his disposal; i.e. enquiries, questioning, examining etc., Meetings will be arranged with members of the Health Commission of the Chamber and Senate and with other organs of the Ministry of Health, who will be furnished with informative scientific papers and documents. Today, all these activities are carried out without the possibility of manifesting, in a public or organized way, the actions of lobbying.
In l987, the bill of Law 1124, article 5, provided for the regulation of an activity of “ representation and promotion of private interests to Parliament, Government, Town, County or District Councils or to single members of such collective organs.” With this meaning, lobbying would be able, by rights, to enter into activities consented to and regulated by law, drawing a total distinction between itself and vague actions of public relations. Official approval of the lobbyist role was incorporated, by rights, into the legislative system and into the relations between the spheres of public and private interests. In the accompanying report to this bill of law, lobbying is spoken of as an activity “ …in itself legitimate and not eliminable in a pluralistic regime, but which must be tied to rigorous prerequisites of transparency in such a way that there be a clear distinction between legal practices and the practices of ‘favours obtained through political patronage’, corruption, or for those practices which, for their dubious nature, shun public scrutiny and tend, therefore, to avoid ‘the light of the sun’. Again – but the expression ‘the light of the sun’ is evoked in other pages of parliamentary acts, when speaking of lobbying.
The concern of the legislator then, appears clear. Regulating this material means furnishinga contribution to the respect of democratic rules and, therefore, to the more general security of the State.
The term ‘security’ is almost never evoked, but it is, nevertheless, evident. Moreover, in a society dominated by the concept of the ‘net’, where access to information and to the formation of decisions is always more transparent and available, where Internet has upset the parameters of the search for knowledge, globalizing the sources and multiplying the reports, the relations between state and market, between deciders and interest groups, cannot remain in a limbo of indeterminate normative conditions.
Society is dematerializing and information is more and more distributed and transmitted on the ‘net’. It is no longer gathered and deposited in safes. Security and communication travel at the same rate: the war against criminality, drugs and terrorism is waged with prevention, with intelligence work and a constant search for information. Likewise, access to legislative information, transparent political action, respect for the rules of the market are an integral part of constitutional law and, therefore, of State security. The American League of Lobbyists invites its members to respect the rules and regulations which govern lobbying like the ethical standards fixed by Congress and the Executive, trying hard to go beyond these official regulations, “…because on them, depends the security of our Country”. The concern of the legislator then, appears clear. Regulating this material means furnishinga contribution to the respect of democratic rules and, therefore, to the more general security of the State.
The term ‘security’ is almost never evoked, but it is, nevertheless, evident. Moreover, in a society dominated by the concept of the ‘net’, where access to information and to the formation of decisions is always more transparent and available, where Internet has upset the parameters of the search for knowledge, globalizing the sources and multiplying the reports, the relations between state and market, between deciders and interest groups, cannot remain in a limbo of indeterminate normative conditions.
Society is dematerializing and information is more and more distributed and transmitted on the ‘net’. It is no longer gathered and deposited in safes. Security and communication travel at the same rate: the war against criminality, drugs and terrorism is waged with prevention, with intelligence work and a constant search for information. Likewise, access to legislative information, transparent political action, respect for the rules of the market are an integral part of constitutional law and, therefore, of State security. The American League of Lobbyists invites its members to respect the rules and regulations which govern lobbying like the ethical standards fixed by Congress and the Executive, trying hard to go beyond these official regulations, “…because on them, depends the security of our Country”.
The lobbies, in general, operate on many fronts; in the heart of the parties; in the parliamentary commissions; in the under-secretariats etc. Their pressure power can come from votes, directly or indirectly manoeuvred, from the ability to furnish information on technical or specialist questions, from support they are able to furnish to the electoral needs of parties or to single professionals. The possibility to easily obtain reliable information which is supported by competent sources is certainly a great benefit to the professional politician who is asked to participate, at critical moments, in matters which are more and more complex. One can ask what this has to do with state security. The answers can be many. The first, which from certain aspects, could seem to be the easiest, concerns the supply of military equipment and /or technology for defence.
The lobby for military supply companies has always had a fundamental role in the defence policy, and in the selection of the apparatus. Above all, in the global market for aeronautic supplies and armaments, the competition of the construction companies has always generated strong public approval of construction commitment . Besides, the entire security policy brings with it the concept of safeguarding the organized interests. To better clarify this point, it is necessary to refer to the current debate on the European Union security.

photo ansa

The topics concerning struggles against terrorism and criminality must be put beside those of free circulation of people and goods, energy dependence and the threats to the environment. In documents of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the European Parliament, where the subject of security is mentioned, it is easy to come across the entire gamma of topics involving the transparency of markets, free commerce and references to the WTO treaties.
The more innovative aspects of these documents inherent in the European Union’s security concern the principles of transparency and responsibility. In general, from 2000 until now, the European Parliament has striven to give a new structure to foreign policy and security, based upon the centrality of the Council and the Commission, interfacing in a progressively strict way, with the geopolitical and geo-economic factors. If the entire sector of the external relations of the Union is examined, one cannot but observe the growing weight of the security policies. In short, economic and security policies proceed at the same pace It is here, in the background of this scene that the lobbies move. Furthermore, foreign policy is strongly characterized by elements of secrecy and confidentiality: the terrain on which lobbyist activities have always moved.
In Italy, until today, it has never been considered necessary to give some legislative and juridical order to this intricate and complex mesh of interests and professionalism. And yet, the lobbies exist in Italy. They work, organize and condition the political system.
To facilitate their work, the lobbyists refer to professionals, who generally come from the public relations sector, to journalists or former journalists, to jurists, lawyers, managers or politicians who have invested their knowledge of the political institutional system, to their personal acquaintances and, naturally, to their own professional experience. Many of them have access to the Senate and the Chamber, availing themselves of professional titles, such as, Journalistic or Parliamentary Collaborators. They exercise their lobbyist activities, examining legislative documentation, perceiving political trends and decisions and supplying and receiving documents useful to their client’s business objectives.
The creation of a Committee for information and communication, care of the Chamber of Deputies, originated during the X Legislature, has given the press access to the documentation of the permanent commissions and has rendered the legislative process more transparent. The hearings by the parliamentary commissions of associations and interest groups have become more frequent; the major part of legislative documents are on-line and can be consulted via inter-net.
The same parliamentary offices have become more disposed to supply, also telephonically, information and news on the bureaucratic formalities of the work of the parliamentary organs. All these efforts for transparency have certainly improved democratic dialectics and the accessing of information on the inter-net contributes to narrowing the distance between public opinion and the ‘decision-making authorities’. We must also consider that with respect to the so-called ‘devolution’ i.e. the decentralization of the central powers to the Regions, the need of access to the administrative sources and of relations with the decentralized powers, has increased beyond measure. The result being that companies, associations and pressure groups have had to organize themselves on a regional scale to enable them to meet the new needs of the regionalization of powers, assigning human resources to institutional relations and, in fact, multiplying the lobbyists’ activities by 20, which is the number of the regions.
Furthermore, we must consider that the new laws regarding public tenders, passed in 1994, and other laws connected with public finance which impose a ‘brake’ to private bidding, obliging the public organizations to call for tender for the provision of goods and services, have recently pushed private and pressure groups to arm themselves with the correct and necessary knowledge and information that will permit them to compete for contracts on an equal basis.
This activity – which in the lobbyist language is called ‘procurement’, has assumed a role of ever increasing importance and delicacy because in the absence of specific standards for the lobbying activity, it risks being qualified by law as a borderline practice. In short, the risk of illegal bidding practices is just around the corner. Yet, the activity of procurement in the Anglo-Saxon meaning of the term, in no way, interferes with the correct course of a tender. The lobbyist is required, by his client, to carry out an ‘on the spot’ verification of the frame of conditions within which the tender specifications and, therefore, the bid itself, will be defined. The scope is to find out precisely the object and purpose of the tender, the technical and procurement specifications, the available budget and the customer’s expectations, the climate in which the tender itself will be carried out and potential alliances, perceiving and analysing in advance, the role of possible rival competitors. The aim is to raise the profile of the rival competitors, making known its interests to the institutional decision-makers. This activity is divided into three phases. The 1st phase is that of the pre-bid, which precedes the offer. In this phase, the lobbyist identifies the key decision-makers and prepares a programme of contacts, so that the compiled offer includes the maximum possible information. It is a very delicate phase which also requires monitoring the capacity of the rival competitor. The lobbyist facilitates the creation of alliances and global service offers and prepares the plan of communication to support the offer itself - also developing a political strategy, should it be requested. Once the authorization to compete is acquired, an examination of the technical conditions are necessary to assure that they are not prejudicial. The lobbyist then participates in the definition of the strategy of the offer, monitoring the activities of the rival competitor and furnishes information as to the trends of the decision-makers – analysing the overall situation of the tender and, if necessary, participating in further final negotiations, if provided for in the tender.
As we can easily understand, ‘procurement’ requires a considerably high standard of professionalism from the lobbyist. He must know the mechanisms of public tendering and contracting. He must have a rudimentary knowledge of public and administrative law and know the rules and standards which govern the specific sector inherent in the subject of the contract. But, above all, he must be able to move in total transparency, respecting the rules and exerting no unlawful pressure on the decision-makers or contract authorities.
The term and concept of lobbying is already well known and accepted in democratic institutions. Navigating the sea of official documents of the Italian State, one comes across this term very frequently. On the internet site of the General Accountancy of the State,referring to community agricultural policy, there is explicit mention “… the lobbying capacity of the farmers”. In the Number 33 edition of the review Impresa & Stato, (Enterprise& State), the President of the Lombardy Region, Roberto Formigoni, states: “The problem of representation of territorial interests…is that of giving legitimacy to new forms of representation, e.g. lobbying, the transfer of competence, the attribution of specific and well aimed responsibility etc.”
In the text of laws, unified by the Commission of Constitutional Affairs, presented in 1997, concerning ‘measures for the prevention of the phenomena of corruption”, in articles 21, 22, 23& 24, it disciplines the phenomenon of the lobby, that is, the activity which is “directed towards pursuing private interests which are not in harmony with general interests or institutional aims, through relations or influence exerted upon the organs in charge of the formation of the legislation or administration”. The spokesmen, the Honourable Serra, Veltri, Bonito, Li Calzi and Martinelli, note how delicate the theme becomes from a constitutional viewpoint, in so far as, in Article 67 of the Constitutional Charter, it is established that each and every member of parliament “represents the Nation and exercise their function ‘without mandatory restrictions’.
So, even if the interests pursued through the activity of lobbying are lawful, the risk of a conflict still remains between the lobby’s interests and the general interests.
The legislator admits that the lobbying activity is highly complex because it can conceal a hidden conditioning which could induce the member to sustain a measure, not from free choice, but , for example, from fear of displeasing substantial areas of his electorate. It is admitted, however, that in a democracy, the exchange between electors and elected, when it concerns legal interests, is “…in some measure, similar in nature to the function of representation itself”.
The activity of lobbying is manifest in all political societies which govern multifaceted situations characterized by fragmented interests, but not for this reason, unworthy of protection.
Lobbying, so the spokesmen write, characterizes all the political societies of industrialized countries, for the large number of advantages at stake and for the presence of interests which cross the borders of a single country and intersect transversely various state entities.
“To know the nature of these interests, the positions that are at stake, the people who represent them, even more, if it deals with non-national interests, it can then, constitute the antidote with respect to the adoption of disciplinary steps of which, the actual aims remain ignored or unknown until the end of time. All the more, if one takes into account that the activity of lobbying can occur in deceitful ways. For example, through essays and articles published by a most respected and authoritative means of the press, or with tendentious information diffused through the means of mass communication. It is not by mere chance that the biggest industrial country, the United States, found it necessary, as far back as the 1950’s, to discipline by law, the lobbying activities.
Article 21, introduces, in the 1st paragraph, the institution of lobbylobbying activities, in such a way that he, who is called to make a decision, is always able to establish whether or not, he has been the object of contact or information with a tendency towards pursuing a precise scope. The regulation which prohibits journalists of the parliamentary press and those who have been members of the Chamber or those who have had executive tasks in public administration , in state institutions or in those societies where the State has a participation in their capital, to carry out lobbying activities for an adequate period of time from the cessation of term of office, is understood, instead, to avoid that the lobbying activity can be carried out by subjects who, due to their past positions, have been too closely connected to those who are called to make decisions. These last, in fact,must always be able to discern between contacts who have no personal interests, and those who have.
To summarize, the intention of the legislature has the objective to bring to light the content of the lobbying activity, in the conviction that its transparency will constitute a deterrent for illicit activities.
Also introduced in this legislature, is the obligation of the lobbyist to deposit a precautionary report on every single activity undertaken and a final balance report at the conclusion of each, plus a comprehensive annual report on all activities. Furthermore, the publicizing of lobbying registers and lobbyist reports is established.
Administrative sanctions are also provided for, which, during the pre-euro period, went from 50 to 100 million Lire.
All the articles above cited were removed by law. It was decided to proceed to the approval,avoiding the subject of the regulation of lobbying. It was officially sustained that due to the complexity of the material, an ‘ad hoc’ law would be required.
The document appeared more than complete and convincing to the functionaries.Unfortunately, it has never been brought to deliberation. This is not the place to discuss why this proposal has been relegated to some bottom drawer. The fact is that it represents the synthesis of no less than 9 bills of law presented by no less than 50 parliamentary members belonging to every political faction present in Parliament in the XIII legislature.
The regulation of lobbying in Italy is, by now, an every-day topic. In a meeting held in Rome in May, 2004 by Reti, a public relations company, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Pier Ferdinando Casini, stated, “ It is necessary to overcome, once and for all, the shadow of diffidence which often surrounds the idea of direct relations between the institutions and the particular interest-bearing organizations within the ambit of legislative proceedings, and emphasize, instead, the full value of the functions which they can and must carry out. Functions, which in the actual phase of evolution of our political system could assume a further added value, in view of the possibility which the organizations have, to act as a kind of connector between the different institutional levels: Parliament, Government, Regional, Local authorities and the European Union.
In a message addressed to the meeting, the Minister for productive activities, AntonioMarzano, wrote: “It will be necessary to define both the ambit and the characteristics of the lobbying activities, both the criteria and the assumed professionals and the self-discipline which can permit the use of lobbying. To such matter, which has the intention of disciplining the lobby from the ‘inside’, aimed at clarifying who the lobbyist is, and what professional characteristics he must possess to exercise such activities, there must be a corresponding intention outside of the lobby, aimed at disciplining the relations between the lobby and the public decision-makers, so as to direct them towards the paths of absolute transparency and correctness.”
The debate is open. There are those who would prefer the launching of a law, taking and updating the previously mentioned articles, and there are those, instead, who would prefer to go towards more ‘pragmatic’ solutions, through the adoption of a parliamentary regulation giving access to the institutional seats. Such regulations should guarantee the transparency of the actions of the lobbyist, who could be recorded in a public register; each operator should declare his own ethical code, and the subject (company, authority, association etc.,) for whom he works. Contacts with parliamentary members can be made within the institutional seats, being limited only to the furnishing of information pertinent to the member; any other questions must be discussed outside of the deputy seats. The lobbyist, however, would remain a private subject, who has no status of any institutional character. A fact, which must be manifest and clear also to external subjects.
A ‘liberal’ plan of this kind would certainly have the merit of being the start of a regulating procedure for this sector. Yet, it appears to many to be a too ‘loose-knit’ solution. The hypothesis of a regulating law, after the style of that already established in Europe and other countries, would have, instead, the merit of giving a clear outline to the profession of lobbyist – because, among the various questions on this subject, there is also that of juridical recognition of the profession, which is not, as yet, assimilated into any precise professional category.
The disciplining of the activity of institutional relations for purposes which are non-institutional and against the general interests, towards members of the National Legislative Assembly, regional or local, would certainly be a valid contribution to the security of the State and its institutions. To know the name and surname of the operator of institutional relations – or lobbyist, or, however, you wish to name him - the seat of business, the precise and circumscribed activity, the list of clients for whom he acts and the description of the objectives for which he works, the composition of the social capital of the society of which he is a member, constitute elements of safeguard and transparency. To know that this person acts in the name of and, on behalf of a syndicate or a contractor or a non-profit association, or an organized group of citizens, or a multi-national organization, is a qualifying element for both the institutions and for the entire institutional relations sector, which – and this is not a lexical paradox – needs ‘security’, in the sense that it is carrying the weight of a growing role, but, at the same time, has no precise or recognized juridical status.
In the variegated and multiform world of the public relations society, the profile of lobbyist is, today, vaguely ascribed to institutional relations or ‘public affairs’. Behind these imprecise names, operate professionals who do not have, in general, a specific preparation.
Only in the last few years, some universities have introduced, prevalently in their communications and political science faculties, study plans which incorporate Institutional Relations as a specific material, But, as yet, the material deals with mere extracts of formation, which does not keep in mind the complexity of the formation of a lobbyist. First of all, it must be animated by a good knowledge of the ‘res publica’, the public, private and administrative law. The lobbyist must know the mechanics of politics, that is, the party system, to have done some political work, at most, in a community, regional or provincial
council. Certainly, all this experience undoubtedly constitutes a strong base for the formation of a lobbyist. The expertise, however, is formed in the field. The lobbyist must be moved by curiosity, must have sensitivity for human and social relations, a knowledge of economic and social mechanisms and possess a strong propensity for reading and study.

photo ansa

But, above all, the person who operates in this field has the duty to respect the rules, even though they are not yet written, perceiving the bond which exists between lobbying , sovereignty and state security.
The Ethics in Government Act, passed in the United States, imposes upon Congress members and personnel, upon the President and federal personnel, a series of measures for the safeguard of professional ethics, imposing – for example – the annual declaration of gifts received, loans contracted, employment status and real estate properties, whether their own, or of family members.
Furthermore, the law institutes The Office of Government Ethics, which has the task of study and proposal, surveillance and respect of the law itself, from both central and peripheral points of the vast American administration. It works in accord with the Department of Justice for investigative activities and is in strict contact with the authorities concerned with internal security. Also, in the United Kingdom, some important new regulations have been established in recent years.
A commission has been instituted to establish new standards in the activity of lobbying. Furthermore, provisions are also being studied in Spain, Portugal and France. In all these cases, whether they deal with the promulgation of laws or regulations, lobbying is being considered as an activity whose value leads us back directly to the democratic life of a country and, therefore, to its security, understood in its broadest sense.
The perception of security passes, more and more, through access to the means of mass communication; to the possibility of connection to the global nets, of telephoning, of navigating on the inter-net, of obtaining information in real time. This concerns the single citizen, but also, concerns the company which must compete on the inter-connected market. In fact, those interested in institutional relations are not only the huge companies, the multi-national global corporations, but more and more, also the small and medium companies, many of which must try to compete in the international market, but also, they must compete with the new procedures of accreditation required by the national and local public institutions. Access to legislative sources, the dialectic relations between citizens and State, the relations between the institutional deciders and civil society, require the comfort of sure regulations.
Transparency and security go hand in hand. Alexis de Tocqueville, in his fundamental work, ‘Democracy in America’, writes, “The art of association, studied and practiced by everyone, becomes the mother of action. To ignore the defence and promotion of legitimate interests, means to deny democracy and, after all, liberty itself.


FRANCO CARDINI, Atrea e i Titani, Edizioni Laterza, 2005;
MAURO FOTIA, Le lobby in Italia, Edizioni Dedalo, 1997;
LUIGI GRAZIANO, Lobbying, pluralismo, democrazia, La Nuova Italia, 1995;