Targeting the lobbying effort: The importance of local government lobbying

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Abstract

Local government is subject to extensive lobbying, which is reasonable given the greater importance of the local public sector in large welfare states. Most of the scholarly attention has been focused on lobbying at the national level, often addressing the impact of interest groups on public policies. This article discusses a decision-making model where interest groups optimize their lobbying efforts given the way that different local governments and individual politicians respond to these activities. A number of propositions are tested on the basis of data from Norwegian local government. Contrary to prior theorizing, we do not find that representatives seeking re-election are contacted more frequently by interest groups. Interest groups target their lobbying activities toward politicians who are members of the relevant council committees, and they exert stronger pressure on members of the executive board and active representatives who perceive themselves as influential. Inter-municipal differences are also of importance: The lobbying activities are more intensive where electoral participation is low and in the larger urban municipalities, while the size of legislatures and the strength of the local political leadership affect lobbying efforts negatively. Interest groups tend to be more active in the richer local governments. The demands of the residential population impact weakly on lobbying efforts.

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