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Transparency International NGO criticises Switzerland over ‘opaque’ lobbyists

The Swiss Federal parliament building in Bern

According to their official declarations, Switzerland’s 246 parliamentarians have over 2,000 declared links to over 1,700 organisations

(Keystone / Peter Klaunzer)

Political lobbying in Switzerland is much too opaque and not properly regulated, warns Transparency International, which has ranked the Alpine nation poorly in a comparative European survey.

Switzerland came 11th out of 20 states and three European Union institutions in a survey published on Thursdayexternal link, which compared the quality of lobbying work being carried out. The top three were Slovenia, the European Commission and Lithuania, while Hungary and Cyprus were ranked last.

The NGO criticised the lack of transparency and integrity rules among Swiss lobbyists and the inability to properly monitor their actions. It said the lack of federal rules and regulations governing lobbyists is inadequate and risks influence peddling and even corruption.

“Despite occasional progress in transparency, effective lobbying takes place on a daily basis in total opacity,” Transparency International wrote in a statement.external link

Lobbyists are particularly active behind the scenes in administrative procedures, in parliamentary committees and in areas where they share common interests with parliamentarians, the study notes.

But the main lobbying force in Bern are not professional lobbyists but parliamentarians. According to official declarations, Switzerland’s 246 parliamentarians have over 2,000 declared links to over 1,700 organisations.

Some parliamentary committees have accumulated more than 200 lobbying mandates and lobbying is active among the 150 registered parliamentary groups. While Swiss law limits membership of these groups to parliamentarians, the study notes that the secretariats of two-thirds of these groups are held by external lobbyists.

Transparency International Switzerland is calling for greater transparency throughout the political decision-making process and clear binding rules. It says the parliament, government and federal authorities should systematically document and publish lobbyists’ interventions and parliamentarians should provide more complete information on their lobbying mandates and interests, including financial aspects.

Keystone SDA/sb

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