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Telos' Blog

Jan, 2022

The Power of Lobbying: Theodoros Koutroubas that 'bad guy'

Lobbying is the great alibi of politics. When something is not done, due to inability or lack of will, the blame is put on the lobbies and their alleged power to put a spoke in the wheels. Mariella Palazzolo and Marco Sonsini of Telos A&S discussed this with Theodoros Koutroubas, Professor of Political Science at the Catholic University of Leuven and Director General and Senior Policy Advisor of the European Council of Liberal Professions-CEPLIS. You can watch here "the best" of the live broadcast of 16 December 2021. Joking about the reputation of the profession, Koutroubas called himself a 'bad guy' as he is a lobbyist and a scholar of the lobbying phenomenon. So he is twice as bad. For the professor, blaming failed political decisions on lobbies is “pure fiction.” Koutroubas also challenges the argument put forward by detractors of the profession, who accuse lobbyists of representing particular interests to the detriment of the common good, as if it were easy to make a clear distinction between the two spheres. In democracy the common good is the fruit of an on-going, never-ending negotiation between the individual good of every citizen. There is no common good written in the stars or in any holy book or in the mind of any auto declared saviour of the country”, claims Koutroubas and recalls his childhood in Greece: “When I was still four, we had a dictatorship which was telling it was for our common good we should not have election and we should have the tanks in the streets. Every dictatorship in the world is working on this common good.

On the question of regulating lobbying, Koutroubas launches a provocation. To Sonsini's comment on the Italian situation “And so far the effort to regulate our sector in Italy has only produced a so called register for lobbyists, which I find disappointing because in our view registers do not address the real issues at stake”, Koutroubas replies “I think that the first thing one needs to do, if one needs to regulate the activity of lobbying is to regulate the decision maker. One needs to regulate the most important part of the equation and the most important part of the equation is definitely not lobbyists.”

Let us not forget that we lobbyists can argue and represent the theses of our clients to the Institutions in the best possible way, but the decision, the final choice, including the political one, and law-making is the exclusive responsibility of the Institutions.

With the conversation on the power of lobbying we closed our series of live events entitled Shall We Call Power Odd and Scary Beast? dedicated to the presentation of our volume the collection TWO. We would like to mention and thank: the antitrust expert Mark Leddy, the political philosopher Jason Brennan, the director of BBC West Africa Toyosi Ogunseye, the journalist Federico Fubini, the President Emeritus of the Chamber of Deputies Luciano Violante, the President of the Section of the Council of State Michele Corradino and the Head of Institutional Affairs of Intesa Sanpaolo Jacques Moscianese.

The Power of Lobbying: Theodoros Koutroubas that 'bad guy'