In the following section, we present descriptive statistics on written statements that various actors submitted to four German ministries and committees in the years 2015 and 2016. We selected these years based on a relevance sampling strategy, since at the time of writing, there were no other comparable years for the two government branches available (Krippendorff 2004: 118–120). These were the only consultations and invitations which were fully uploaded and up to date.
Our data cover statements from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Housing and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) and the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), as well as the committees mirroring these ministries: Finance, Health, Internal Affairs and Environment, Nature Conversation, Housing and Nuclear Safety.
All written statements were downloaded, and the authors’ names were retrieved. Each author was classified using any of seven categories: (1) business groups, (2) public interest groups, (3) unions, (4) occupational associations, (5) policy experts, (6) private firms and (7) others. This coding scheme is a slightly amended version of the INTERARENA classification scheme (Baroni et al. 2014; Binderkrantz et al. 2015) which is based on an organizational definition of interest groups. Also, we assigned an identification number to each actor, each written statement and each bill.
We generated two datasets: The first includes statements on all bills discussed in the four ministries and parliamentary committees in the years 2015 and 2016. The second dataset zooms in on those bills only which were subject of consultation in both ministries and parliamentary committees (N = 24). This allows us to compare the bill-related lobbying activity of actors across branches of government enabling us to single out which actors submitted statements only to parliament, only to ministries and to both branches.
Table 1 presents the mobilization of actors on 229 bills. Parliament set up hearings on 156 bills, and government ministries organized consultations on 97 bills. There was a total of 253 bill-related consultations on 229 distinct bills. Twenty-four bills (10.5% of all distinct bills) were the subject of consultations in both parliament and government. Overall, we collected 3207 statements. Of these, 1696 were submitted to the ministries and 1511 to the parliament. Each actor accounts for 2.0 statements on average (2.1 in ministries and 1.8 in parliament). Co-authored statements—the reason for the difference between the total sum of statements and the amount of distinct statements—are a rarity: 1% of the statements that were submitted to ministries were co-authored, and 0.7% of the statements were presented in parliament. Variations across actor types in that regard are minimal. Based on the written statements, we identified 1689 distinct actors. In total, 912 actors submitted statements to the ministries and 880 to parliamentary committees. In total, 103 actors (6.1% of all distinct actors) were active in both branches.
The mean number of statements on a bill was 17.5 in ministries compared to 9.7 in parliament. Thus, parliamentary committees seem to use their gatekeeper function to invite fewer stakeholders to comment on a bill than are present in government consultations. We may expect this pattern because ministries tend to request written statements in open consultations. The Bundestag’s committees face greater time constraints in their proceedings than the ministries.
The number of actors per statement differs between ministries and parliament as well. On average, a statement sent to a ministry is written by 1.1 actors. By comparison, an average statement submitted to a parliamentary hearing is written by just one actor. Joint statements are more common among some actors: Business associations (1.1) and public interest groups (1.2) tend to form coalitions with other actors to receive more attention by the ministries.
Next, we zoom in on the 24 bills on which both ministries and parliamentary committees held consultations. We will analyze the differences between actor types, regarding their participation in these consultations that took place in different stages of the legislative process.
The number of distinct actors that submitted statements on the 24 bills varies greatly between ministries (206) and parliament (127). Only 6.1% of the actors (13) took part in both parliamentary and government consultations. In contrast to the results shown in the first table, we only find co-authored statements in the ministerial consultations (1.3% of all distinct statements). When comparing actors’ overall activity, Table 2 illustrates considerable differences between actor types, both within the same branch and across the branches. Business groups are the predominant actor type at ministerial level, constituting 51.5% of all distinct actors who submitted written statements. They wrote 47.4% of all submitted statements and commented on 79.2% of all ministerial bills.
Their mean number of statements on a bill is 10. 2 statements when adding the mean numbers of statements given to ministries and to parliament confirms their high level of activity. Major reasons for the predominance of business interests are the vast number of groups representing business interests and their greater financial resources to lobby government. The second most frequent actor type at ministerial level are public interest groups (22.3% of all actors, 19.2% of all statements), followed by occupational groups, the latter of which submitted 16.4% of all statements while only constituting only 9.7% of all distinct actors. Unions account only for 2.9% of the actors submitting statements to ministries, but tend to submit the largest number of statements by actor (3.5). The German union sector has a strongly corporatist structure: It consists of a limited number of hierarchically ordered and functionally differentiated unions that have a certain level of representational monopoly (Schmitter 1977).
In contrast, the dominant actor type in parliamentary hearings is the policy expert (24.4%, compared to 0.49% in ministries). Committees asked experts to comment on nearly 80% of all bills. Regarding interest organizations, the share of business groups and public interest groups is fairly balanced. The share of business interests amounts to 17.3% of all actors. Business interests submitted 22.0% of all statements, while public interest groups have a share of 20.5% among all distinct actors. They contributed 15.6% of all statements. Unions and private firms have each a share of 6.3% of all distinct actors with unions submitting more statements.
Our illustrative findings correspond well with those found in an analysis of the interaction between parliamentary committees and external actors in the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands (Pedersen et al. 2015). This study shows that open consultations without prior invitation tend to increase the dominance of interest groups over other actor types, while consultations based on invitations increase the diversity of the actor composition and include a greater variety of actor types such as experts and private companies.