12 Mar 2018

Switching sides: the politicians who become lobbyists

Numerous former heads of state and retired politicians, some of whom were staunch opponents of "big business," accept questionable offers from large companies, becoming lobbyists for industries they used to regulate. 

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Switching sides: the politicians who become lobbyists - NewsMavens
Ewa Glawischnig, Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Earlier this month, the news broke that former Greens leader Eva Glawischnig was hired by Novomatic, an international gambling company. Glawischnig, who was once seen as an irreproachable campaigner for a cleaner Austria, was criticized by all, including her former party, for accepting to lobby for Novomatic, which most commentators perceive as morally bankrupt.

This is only the latest case in a long series of similar "retirements" for notable politicians. It is worth emphasizing that lobbying is not always negative; political scientist Hubert Sickinger told Der Standard that:

"[Lobbying] is not disreputable per se, but it has to be public knowledge who represents whose interests."

However, at the moment it is remarkably unclear which Austrian politician lobbies for which company. Until this changes, a healthy dose of caution and skepticism are in order. 

scandal, economy, work, politics

Politicians collaborating with controversial employers:

  • Ex-leader of the Greens Eva Glawischnig is now working for the gambling giant Novomatic.
  • Former Social Democrat Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer repeatedly made international headlines for being an advisor to Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev. He also worked as a consultant for Novomatic, and sits on the board of a Canadian mining company involved in litigation. He is said to have acted as the "non-executive" director of a Malta-based tax haven company.
  • Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, also a Social Democrat, is now an economic lobbyist for proponents of the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream, and for the Russian oil company Rosneft.
  • Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair received a secret cash deal from a South Korean oil company, UI Energy Corporation.
  • José Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission, is now lobbying for the US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

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