By Jalal Nali
By Jalal Nali
Morocco World News
Dublin, February 24, 2012
Lobbying is an unknown business field for many people. Realizing this, I decided to demystify the term lobbyist and try to make it understandable; many articles tend to mislead the readers about this important hidden side of success stories.
Lobbying is communications made in speeches, public events, articles or other material widely distributed to the public through radio, television, Internet, or any other medium of mass communication. These communications aim to influence or attempt to influence decisions, or shed light on someone’s image, or that of a cause or group or organization.
Lobbying is a line of work full of people who have changed careers, since relevant knowledge and experience are all you really need to become a lobbyist. It is full-time work, recognized and regulated in many countries. A lobbyist work for a large organization, a private individual, or the general public. Lobbyists must be adept at the art of persuasion at different levels, which is the mainstay of their job. They must figure out how to sway politicians to vote on legislation in a way that favors the interest they represent. Lobbyists will often host social functions, like cocktail parties. Doing this allows lobbyists to interact with politicians—and opponents—in a less formal atmosphere. Grassroots lobbyists write articles for newspapers and magazines and appear on talk shows to generate interest in and awareness of their issues.
There is no reason to attack lobbyists, despite the fact that lobbying is considered a dirty word in many circles. The criticism most often leveled against the role of lobbying in governments, is that it is “legal bribery” of government officials in an effort to guarantee favorable outcomes. Many assume that a lobbyist is out to corrupt the law in favor of their client and to secure more loot for themselves and their own. Networking is the name of the game in lobbying, where people are hired as much for who they know as what they know. Someone who can schmooze at high levels will start his lobbying career from an accordingly high perch, while others face a long hard climb While there is no hierarchy of seniority as in corporations, this also means that there is no ceiling for those who do well.
Every respected organization or government retains lobbying entities or law firms to represent their interests, and call on them to lobby their position on global issues or reaching market targets. This is naturally the way that the world works and without strong marketing no country can survive the economic or political competition.
Regarding government marketing, there are no real rules. Every government seeks to position itself as the best place for investment, as political stable, as having great technological advances, and having high respect for human rights and an open business environment.
In the United States, there are laws regulating lobbying activities under The Federal Disclosure Lobbying Act which limits and controls all lobbying activities for members of Congress, in addition to limiting and controlling campaign contributions to elected officials and candidates, companies, or labor unions.
Organizations spend billions of dollars each year to lobby Congress and other federal agencies. Some special interests retain lobbying firms, many of them located along Washington’s legendary K Street; others have lobbyists working in-house.
The most astonishing truth is that one of the best ways for a corporation to affect government policy is to hire lobbyists with personal connections to the people they will be lobbying. Not surprisingly, this is one of the techniques the big financial companies have been using to fight financial reforms. Last year, 71% of lobbyists hired by the six biggest bank-holding companies in the USA were former government officials.
A new study from the International Monetary Fund on the influence of campaign donations and lobbying on politics is worth mentioning because of the thoroughness of the research and the reliability of its source. Two IMF economists, Deniz Igan and Prachi Mishra, have been examining how the targeted political activities of financial corporations between 1999 and 2006 affected how Congress voted on bills that strengthened or loosened regulation of Wall Street leading up to the 2008 crisis.
Now what does lobbying have to do with ethics?
Periodic scandals make many people skeptical about the role of lobbying in a democracy, but the right to try to influence legislation is protected under the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This protection assumes that people should be involved in the decisions that affect them as a crucial part of good decision-making.
Lobbying presents several ethical dilemmas. Since the the ethical foundation of lobbying initiates vigorous public debate necessary for informed decision-making, ethical dilemmas related to lobbyists tend to arise when various behaviors by lobbyists and lawmakers undermine the fairness and transparency of that process and do not contribute to the common good.
Now that I’ve explained lobbying and related activities, I hope these make more sense to my readers, and now I can turn to my homeland, The Kingdom of Morocco. Naturally many questions will arise simply because Moroccans are not familiar with lobbying culture, though on the other hand, we practice a kind of middle ages lobbying called ‘’Chinese whispers.’’
Now! Is democratic Morocco willing to mirror other countries and implement regulatory lobbying act?
In fact, Morocco does have a small scale regulatory law used only during political campaigns. But now, as we evolve to fair election practices thanks to the new constitution, shouldn’t we be heading straight to this practice of a person or a group targeting publicity, rather than the bygone method where opinion is monopolized by some privileged, connected elite?
In this subject, I think that we could simply take good practical examples from experienced countries. Regulations in lobbying matter, and why not apply some changes to make lobbying fit Morocco’s reality? Moroccan Diasporas are aware of the strength of this weapon, consequently they play and replace the low quality efforts of some Morocco’s officials to brighten our country’s image abroad.
To summarize, I would like to emphasize that Morocco’s potential will remain constrained if no progress is made liberating the economy, empowering civil society, and reinforcing freedom of speech. I will use a nonexistent English word that I read in the The New York Times and say that the goal is to turn “untransparent” competitiveness into fair wealth repartition.
Edited by Jasmine Davey
Acharif Al Idrissi Jalal Nali was Born in Tangier. He holds a PhD in Management and negotiations, university degrees in IT, Spanish literature and world trade. He is president of CDPM ‘Center of Peace and Development in the Mediterranean’ and DPM ‘Diplomatie Parallele Marocaine’. He is the former Director and S.G of ‘One’ NGO for medical aid to Africa and CNMJ respectively. He is a member of the Moroccan Sahara association, a member of the Euro-Moroccan Friendship Association and the former director of ‘Maroc Post Europe’. Dr. Nali is knowledgeable in global politics, geostrategic affairs and Military logistics in Africa. He is a Member of the Oxford global research on terror and he is science articles’ Reviewer at Reed Elsevier JEEM, a global leader in science publishing articles.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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