BY INVITATION ONLY: A LEGISLATIVE THEORY ON PUBLIC LOBBYING AND THE GATEKEEPERS OF INFLUENCE
Vallejo Vera, Sebastián
MetadataShow full item record
In democratic politics, the participation of interest groups in policymaking is commonly understood as a secluded affair; an exchange were interest groups actively influence the fine print of statutory laws without being observed by the public at large. Why would interest groups and policymakers make public an otherwise private affair? By focusing on the public participation of interest groups in legislative committees, I argue that legislators use the public participation of interest groups in the legislative process as a means to raise the salience of issues they own. By taking advantage of the sequential organization of the legislature, legislators with gatekeeping authority will open the gates of committees to interest groups when the party benefits from the increased public attention and close them when the party does not. Interest groups, on their part, are granted access to micro-manage policy--to benefit from specific modifications of a law--. Evidence to test my arguments comes from an original dataset of 6,989 instances of interest group participation in committee meetings in the Ecuadorian Congress between 1979 and 2018, as well as over 30 semi-structured interviews to interest group representatives, legislators, and congressional staff. I find that, not only are legislators inviting interest groups to participate in issues the party owns, but they are doing so at a greater rate when the exposure of the party brand matters the most: before an election.