Ethics and Politics
“ Where does lobbying end and bribery begin?” (ODA member)
Battles over the morals of politicians’ have been waged in the public arena at the very least since the times of ancient Rome. Much as in the Roman Forum, the Czech media provides the public with the latest news and confirmed reports about politicians and their activities or about the flavor of the month: premature elections. More than one pundit or commentator has sounded the alarm and pointed the finger at corrupt practices connected with the exercising of political power. They publish criticisms and opinions, they mock and they threaten. Ultimately, as was the case in primitive societies, ridiculing one’s opponent is one of the cruelest punishments. Modern Cicero would not have been satisfied simply to prove Catiline’s guilt and eject him from Rome. And what is Catiline guilty of in the eyes of the public? Of allying himself with a lobbyist. If in fact we study the complex political process, we discover that every other individual could have been called a Catiline, both here and throughout the world. Where is that line of political culture behind which the greatest punishment lies in wait – being ostracized, excluded from respectable society?
We turned to Czech politicians with similar questions and more than 360 politically active individuals shared their opinion with us. Here are some of the interesting results.
· The most important sources of information for politicians are their own research, the opinions of their colleagues and documents from their assistants and office staff.
· The public does not have sufficient information about the methods and usefulness of lobbying.
· Ethical lobbying does exist.
· The most important principle in lobbying is transparency.
· Lobbyists can provide qualified, detailed, expert and substantiated information.
· Information provided by lobbyists is oftentimes biased and distorted.
· Politicians have a high opinion of lobbyists working in the IT industry
· Companies make better lobbyists than do industry/trade and non-governmental organizations.
· Lobbying is important for the functioning of multiple offices and political bodies.
· Regional impact studies are very influential in political decision-making.
· Politicians prefer personal face-to-face meetings.
· The most influential medium is Hospodarske noviny (economic newspaper).
Survey findings were mentioned in several Czech media. Ekonom weekly and Marketing & Media covered the issue extensively, in e.g. these articles: "Informace, kontakty a vliv" a "Ta věc, řečená lobbing, je stejně nejistá jako rybolov na Hebridách".
Kontakt: Michal Donath