Austria's development in terms of political management and the modernization of the country's interest mediation system is to be characterized by one word: delay. In comparison with other liberal western democracies, the stronghold on the political system by the organizations of the Austrian social partnership that had existed from 1945 limited the development of a modern political consulting industry. The social partnership was described as ‘Austria's shadow government’ by political scientists in the 1980s. Until the late 1990s, a transparent political consulting market, driven by professionalism and competition, was neither encouraged nor wanted – and simply did not exist. When the coalition government of the People's Party and the Freedom Party came into power in 2000, the system was changed fast. Owing to the creation of a disconnect between those two parties in power and the traditional policy making entities, the year 2000 was also the starting point for public affairs and lobbying-consultants in Austria. In 2003, the professional public affairs industry gathered to form the Austrian Lobbying and Public Affairs Council, more a platform of a few like-minded consultants than a trade association. In 2006, the institutions of the social partnership lobbied to have themselves established in the Austrian constitution: since then their mandatory membership as well as their contributing role in political decision making is based on the constitution. In 2011, the whole system came to an abrupt halt, when a series of so-called ‘lobbying-scandals’ sent shockwaves through the political system. Those scandals all have several aspects in common: they all involve politicians and party-affiliated consultants and they all circle around the question of corruption. Quickly afterwards, the Austrian federal government responded by drafting a lobbying regulation and registration law, the first ever to be introduced in Austria. A few months later, the federal government presented its final draft, which included registration in three tiers. For consultancies, the draft called for total transparency. Corporations, non-governmental organizations and associations had weaker requirements for transparency and the institutions of the social partnership were required to register with their name and web-address only. In September 2011, the Austrian Public Affairs Association was founded, representing public affairs professionals from companies, associations, agencies and non-governmental organizations.
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Köppl, P. Of historical burdens, misperceptions and recent scandals: Austria's bumpy journey towards professional public affairs. Int Groups Adv 1, 67–74 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1057/iga.2012.3
- Austrian social partnership
- Austrian lobbying and public affairs council
- Austrian public affairs association