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Lobbying, litigation and direct democracy: Comparing advocacy strategies of interest groups in Switzerland and California

English title Lobbying, litigation and direct democracy: Comparing advocacy strategies of interest groups in Switzerland and California
Applicant Varone Frédéric
Number 149689
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de science politique et relations internationales Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.11.2013 - 31.01.2017
Approved amount 352'801.00
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Keywords (7)

direct democracy; lobbying; California; litigation; interest groups; Switzerland; venue shopping

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
"Lobbying, judiciarisation et démocratie directe: comparaison des stratégies des groupes d'intérêt en Californie et en Suisse."Ce projet compare les stratégies suivies par les groupes d'intérêt, en Suisse et en Californie, pour influencer les politiques publiques. Il se focalise sur l'usage du lobbying, des recours devant les tribunaux et de la démocratie directe dans une dizaine de secteurs différents (dont le mariage homosexuel, la recherche biomédicale, les transports, l'énergie, etc.).
Lay summary

"Lobbying, judiciarisation et démocratie directe: comparaison des stratégies des groupes d'intérêt en Californie et en Suisse"

Pour influencer une politique publique, un groupe d'intérêt peut notamment faire du lobbying auprès de l'administration publique, du gouvernement et/ou du parlement, porter un cas devant les tribunaux, ou encore lancer une initiative populaire ou un référendum facultatif. Ce projet étudie dans quelle(s) arène(s) institutionnelle(s), avec quelle fréquence et intensité ainsi qu'avec quels éventuels partenaires de coalition, différents groupes d'intérêt cherchent à influencer un politique publique particulière.

Empiriquement, le projet compare les stratégies suivies par les groupes d'intérêt actifs dans une dizaine de secteurs, dont le mariage homosexuel, la recherche sur les cellules souches, les droits des immigrés, les infrastructures ferroviaires, les énergies renouvelables etc. Des cas similaires sont traités aussi bien en Suisse qu'en Californie, puis systématiquement comparés.

Pour chaque cas retenu, la méthodologie prévoit une analyse documentaire permettant de reconstruire le processus décisionnel et la mobilisation des groupes d'intérêts, des entretiens avec une sélection de ceux-ci ainsi qu'un éventuel questionnaire en ligne. Le traitement qualitatif et quantitatif de ces données doit permettre de tester plusieurs hypothèses sur le choix des stratégies advocatives, en fonction des caractéristiques des groupes d'intérêt (par ex. le type, les objectifs, les membres et les ressources du groupe étudié), des enjeux de la politique publique concernée (par ex. la médiatisation, la conflictualité et l'étape du cycle de la politique) et, finalement, du contexte institutionnel (par ex. la régulation formelle des activités de lobbying, les outils de démocratie directe à disposition et l'ouverture de la phase réglementaire en Suisse et en Californie).

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.09.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
How MPs' ties to interest groups matter for legislative co-sponsorship
FischerManuel, VaroneFrédéric, GavaRoy, SciariniPascal (2019), How MPs' ties to interest groups matter for legislative co-sponsorship, in Social Networks, 57, 34-42.
More equal than others: Assessing economic and citizen groups' access across policymaking venues
WeilerFlorian, EichenbergerSteven, MachAndre (2018), More equal than others: Assessing economic and citizen groups' access across policymaking venues, in Governance, 32(2), 277-293.
Interest groups as multi-venue players
VaroneFrédéric, GavaRoy, JourdainCharlotte, EichenbergerSteven, MachAndre (2018), Interest groups as multi-venue players, in Interest Groups & Advocacy, 7(2), 173-195.
Studying policy advocacy through social network analysis
Varone Frédéric, Ingold Karin, Jourdain Charlotte (2017), Studying policy advocacy through social network analysis, in European Political Science, 16(3), 322-336.
Interest groups in Parliament: Exploring MPs' interest affiliations (2000-2011)
Gava Roy, Varone Frédéric, Mach André, Eichenberger Steven, Christe Julien, Chao-Blanco Corinne (2017), Interest groups in Parliament: Exploring MPs' interest affiliations (2000-2011), in Swiss Political Science Review, 23(1), 77-94.
Formal ties between interest groups and members of parliament: Gaining allies in legislative committees
EichenbergerSteven, MachAndre (2017), Formal ties between interest groups and members of parliament: Gaining allies in legislative committees, in Interest Groups & Advocacy, 6(1), 1-21.
How corporatist institutions shape the access of citizen groups to policy makers: Evidence form Denmark and Switzerland
Christiansen Peter Munck, Mach André, Varone Frédéric (2017), How corporatist institutions shape the access of citizen groups to policy makers: Evidence form Denmark and Switzerland, in Journal of European Public Policy, 25(4), 526-545.
Lobbying across venues: an issue-tracing approach
Jourdain Charlotte, Hug Simon, Varone Frédéric (2016), Lobbying across venues: an issue-tracing approach, in State Politics and Policy Quarterly, 17(2), 127-153.
Defending the status quo across venues and coalitions: evidence form California interest groups
Varone Frédéric, Ingold Karin, Jourdain Charlotte (2016), Defending the status quo across venues and coalitions: evidence form California interest groups, in Journal of Public Policy, 37(1), 1-26.
Consultations et groupes d'intérêt: un aperçu quantitatif
Christe Julien, Gav Roy, Varone Frédéric (2016), Consultations et groupes d'intérêt: un aperçu quantitatif, in LEGES - Législation et évaluation, 27(2), 211-224.
Parlement de milice et groupes d'intérêt (1970-2010): Professionnalisation et diversification de sliens d'intérêt?
Eichenberger Steven Pilloti Andrea Mach André Varone Frédéric (2016), Parlement de milice et groupes d'intérêt (1970-2010): Professionnalisation et diversification de sliens d'intérêt?, in Annuaire suisse d'histoire économique et sociale, 31, 185-202.
Groupes d'intérêt et pouvoir politique
Mach André (2015), Groupes d'intérêt et pouvoir politique, Presses polytechniques et universitaires romandes, Lausanne.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
ECPR Standing Group (SG) on Interest Groups (IG) Belgium (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Anne Binderkrantz, University of Aahrus - INTERARENA Denmark (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Jan Beyers, University of Antwerp - INTEREURO Belgium (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Frank Baumgartner, Chapell Hill - Advocacy and Public Policy Project United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
159370 Re-parliamentarization? A quantitative assessment of the Swiss Parliament's legislative function, 1987-2015 01.08.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

"Lobbying, litigation and direct democracy: Comparing advocacy strategies of interest groups in Switzerland and California"In advanced democracies, interest groups are key actors of the policymaking process. To directly influence a public policy, an interest group (IG) has to gain access to an institutional venue in which binding policy decisions are made (i.e. constitutional amendments, laws, regulatory decisions, courts rulings). IGs thus strategically shop between different institutional venues. An IG can lobby the Parliament and/or the Executive; it can also bring a case to a Judicial Court; or it can launch a Popular Initiative or a Referendum, if the political system provides for these Direct Democracy instruments. Indirectly, an IG can also address policy issues in arenas in which no binding decisions are made: for example, it can participate in protest activities or be present in the media. Furthermore, an IG can follow one specific strategy and thus target one institutional venue or arena. Or, on the contrary, it can combine several political activities, institutional venues and arenas. Finally, an IG can work alone or join an ad hoc issue coalition. The present research project focuses specifically on the venue shopping strategies of IGs. The general research question is: Where (venue), how (intensity) and with whom (coalition) do interest groups try to influence public policies? Empirically, the project compares the concrete choices made by IGs in different policy domains and in two political systems (i.e. Switzerland and California) over the last two decades. To analyze why an IG chooses to access a specific (combination of) institutional venue(s) as “policy battleground”, rather than another, we define three dependent variables: the presence of an IG within an institutional venue (here: Parliament, Executive, Courts and Direct Democracy), the intensity of its political activities within this specific institutional venue and, its participation to an ad hoc issue coalition. We then look at three categories of independent variables to explain these three dependent variables: the characteristics of the interest group (e.g. group type, goals, membership, resources), the characteristics of the policy issues at stake (e.g. policy type, policy stage, issue saliency, level of opposition), and the institutional context and rules regulating the formal access to the different institutional venues (e.g. requirements to qualify for a constitutional initiative, to register as a parliamentary lobbyist, to participate to rule-making procedures, etc.). For each independent variable we formulate explicit research hypotheses that capitalize on previous international research.Our test of these research hypotheses is based on the study of ten policymaking processes, which concern policy issues raised in similar ways in Switzerland and California during the last two decades (e.g. same-sex marriage, stem cell research, immigrants’ rights, renewable energies). The number of case studies is 20 (i.e. 10 issues X 2 political systems). For each policy process, we undertake a documentary analysis to reconstruct the chronology and binding decisions of the issue. We identify all institutional venues and IGs that have formally been involved in the policymaking process. We then send an online survey to the identified IGs and conduct semi-directed interviews with selected IGs representatives. The statistical analysis of the survey, interview and documentary data eventually allows for the systematic comparison of IGs’ strategies between groups, policy domains and political systems.
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