The Politics of Persuasion

The Politics of Persuasion

Should Lobbying be Regulated in the EU?

Urs S. Brandt and Gert T. Svendsen

The EU is at a crossroads. Should it choose the path towards protectionism or the path towards free trade? This book convincingly argues that lobbying regulation will be a decisive first step towards fulfilling the European dream of free trade, in accordance with the original purpose of the Treaty of Rome. Without the regulation of lobbyists to try and prevent undue political persuasion, there is a greater risk of abuse in the form of corruption, subsidies and trade barriers, which will come at the expense of consumers, tax payers and competitiveness.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Urs S. Brandt and Gert T. Svendsen

Subjects: economics and finance, public choice theory, politics and public policy, european politics and policy, public choice, regulation and governance

Extract

Steven Lukes stated in 1974 that one should study power as having three ‘faces’ or dimensions. The first dimension concerns the power of political leaders to fight observable conflicts in the decision-making process; power is winning the political battle. The second dimension is the power to control agendas; what is discussed and what is excluded. Previous discussions on the concept of power had been limited to those forms of power that could be seen, that is, these two first dimensions, and the overt use of power in political decision-making processes. It is not sufficient, however, to study concrete, observable behaviour. Therefore, Lukes argued, that the third ‘criticial’ dimension of power should be considered in political analysis (Lukes 1974). Lobbying belongs to this third dimension. It is not obviously measurable as it often takes place behind the scenes and hidden from public scrutiny. Therefore, the third dimension deals with the hidden use of power. Overt and also covert observable conflicts should be included in political analysis. Such ‘latent’ conflict ‘consists in a contradiction between the interests of those exercising power and the real interests of those they exclude’ (Lukes 1974, 24–5). Furthermore, ‘The conflict is latent in the sense that it is assumed that there would be a conflict of wants or preferences between those exercising power and those subject to it, were the latter to become aware of their interests’ (ibid., 25). Because not all conflicts are measurable, we must infer their existence.