Formal ties between interest groups and members of parliament: Gaining allies in legislative committees

Abstract

While previous research on interest groups’ (IGs) relations to MPs has mainly focused on informal lobbying strategies or interorganizational linkages, the analysis of formal ties between MPs and IGs has remained neglected. Such formal ties can be conceptualized as an exchange relationship between individual MPs and IGs. The latter benefit from access to parliament while the former benefit from the expertise and support provided by IGs. We investigate whether committee members’ formal ties to IGs reflect committees’ responsibilities. Our results show that there is a strong topical match between committee members’ ties to IGs and committees’ area of competence. However, this congruence is less due to the background of MPs than to the ties developed after committee assignment. Formal ties are, to a large extent, the consequence of IGs recruiting MPs who can give them access to relevant committees. Empirical evidence comes from Swiss MPs’ ties to IGs between 2000 and 2015.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the financial support of the Swiss National Science Foundation (funding of project 100017_149689). We also thank Frédéric Varone, Roy Gava, Manuel Fischer, Heike Klüver, Simon Wüthrich, as well as Jan Beyers and the two referees for their helpful suggestions.

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Correspondence to Steven Eichenberger.

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Eichenberger, S., Mach, A. Formal ties between interest groups and members of parliament: Gaining allies in legislative committees. Int Groups Adv 6, 1–21 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41309-017-0012-2

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Keywords

  • interest group strategies
  • recruitment
  • legislative committees
  • Switzerland