The Legal Regulation and Institutionalisation of Lobbying in Lithuania: Outcomes and Lessons of the First Decade

Rimgaudas Geleževičius

Abstract


In 2000 the Law on Lobbying Activities was adopted in Lithuania and in 2003 it was amended. The country institutionalised a certain model of the lobbying institute, which is distinguished by the system of permission of lawful forms of lobbyism and, by contrast, prohibition of shadow lobbying appearances and sanctions for violations, mandatory registration of lobbyists, their strict control, liability and reporting. Such tradition of interaction of interest groups with government institutions is typical to the USA and some other countries, including several post-Communist nations.
However, the analysis shows that lobbying legalised itself in Lithuania according to the procedure laid down by the Law only in insignificant volume; a small group of registered lobbyists pursue it—their number differs, but seldom exceeds twenty natural and legal persons who do not play any more noticeable role in influencing political decisions. Lithuanian lobbying has serious issues, for example, bad public opinion, etc., however, the essential obstacle has become the fact that non-governmental organisations, representing civil business interests, failed to integrate into the system laid down by the Law. Their lobbying on behalf of their members remained unregulated and uncontrolled.
Eventually, an alternative attitude to lobbying regulation was settled. This is the model of lobbying activities poorly restricted by legal norms, when high publicity and transparency standards, ensured by internal rules, codes of ethics and analogous instruments of government institutions are applicable to the actions of lobbyists. Influential associated interest groups actively speak against the attempts, covered by the necessity of lobbying regulations, to restrict the initiatives of civil society, related to the objective to influence legislation.
Lithuania failed to establish the explicitly and strictly legally regulated lobbying of the Anglo-Saxon type, though the Law on Lobbying is officially still in force. In this area our country should take the road chosen by the absolute majority of democratic countries and refuse altogether lobbying regulating lobbying under a special legal act.

Keywords


lobby; lobbying; lobbyist; legal regulation and institutionalisation of lobbying; lobbying law; interest group; non-governmental organisation

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236