4 out of 5 citizens around the world think that the system is not working in their interests, according to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer. A key reason for this is the perception that when it comes to politics, money talks.
Finance is a necessary component of the democratic processes. Money enables the expression of political support and competition in elections.
However, it may be a means for powerful narrow interests to exercise undue influence. For example, newly elected officials maybe pressured to "return the favour" to corporations that funded their campaign.
This can lead to policy capture, where public decisions over policies are directed away from the public interest towards a specific interest.
1. Strengthen the representation of interests:
2. Reinforce accountability mechanisms in political finance:
3. Strengthen transparency and integrity in lobbying, enforce standards around revolving door practices and improve the integrity of media and information:
A large part of the policy-making process involves lobbyists and advocacy groups influencing decision-makers to tip the scale in their favour.
While this is essential to a well-functioning democracy, some groups use sometimes dubious and unbalanced ways to influence.
Most of the influence techniques they use are legal and difficult to detect.
For example, one may use its connections, or spend much more money in lobbying than the opposite group can.
One may use smokescreens, which consist of diverting the attention away from the issue through public relations campaigns or sponsored scientific studies.
Astroturfing, which consists in creating or funding organisations to produce an impression of widespread grassroots support for a cause, is another practice, often on the fence of legality.
This undue influence can lead to biased decisions that slow progress in some of the most pressing issues of our time, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Health as one example Governements are still not implementing the appropriate taxes on sugar, despite the evidence.
For example, the World Health Organisation estimates that between 2011-2030, USD 1.7 trillion will be lost worldwide due to diabetes.
The UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology reported that reducing the amount of sugar in sweetened drinks by 40% over 5 years could prevent 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes and 1 million cases of obesity over two decades.
But this applies to climate change, poverty, many other issues. The database of cases developed by the OECD will provide more examples.
The main mechanisms of influence have been identified and the OECD has developed corresponding guidance for policy makers on how to regulate them. This includes conflicts of interest, policy capture and political finance.
The OECD has also developed guidance to ensure access to information and stakeholder engagement in its Recommendation of the Council on Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying.
In particular, they highlight the necessity of standards, rules and procedures to disclose information, define actors and activities covered, and manage conflict of interest.