The political business in Berlin has changed since the new government came to power. The demands on professional lobbyists have changed fundamentally—a guest commentary.
Since the beginning of the year Germany has a lobby register. The introduction of a statutory, legally binding lobby register was long overdue. Over the years, there have been numerous impulses from civil society. However, all previous parliamentary attempts had failed. Draft legislation failed to find a majority in the parliamentary groups. Finally, in the last legislative period, the parliamentary blockade in Berlin broke due to many scandals involving Members of Parliament and the grand coalition had to respond to the enormous loss of confidence. It did so both with a law to introduce a lobby register and with a considerable tightening of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament. Since April of this year, there is now the "Law on the Introduction of a Lobby Register for the Representation of Interests to the German Bundestag and to the Federal Government" (LobbyRG). The law obliges, among others, the entire sector of professional interest representation to register in a public register kept by the Bundestag.
Two and a half months after the 2021 federal elections Germany has a new government. By signing the coalition treaty on Tuesday, 7th December, the negotiations between the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens (Alliance 90/The Greens), and the Liberals (FDP) were formally concluded. Following two special digital party conventions by SPD and FDP and a general members’ referendum among the Green party members all three parties had given “green light” to the coalition agreement paving the way for the first-ever “traffic-light” coalition on federal level. On Wednesday, 8th December, Olaf Scholz (SPD) was elected and sworn in as new Chancellor by the Bundestag together with his cabinet ministers marking the end of the 16-year long Merkel era.
Digitalisation, globalisation and credibility are shaping the work of interest representation. It has become more and more apparent that the term "public affairs" is very unspecific, misleading, and partly useless for the global discussion. In addition to the traditional term “lobbying”, the term "global governmental relations" is increasingly used to describe the work of interest representation in an international context, but also in Europe and Germany. Increasing complexity, internationalisation as well as the acceleration of information flows and decision-making require new methods of analysis, dialogue formats, refined instruments and strategy offers as well as resilient networks from political consultants.
Computer-assisted models are getting better and better at producing simulations of complex future developments. The increasing availability and technical capability for data processing offer the opportunity to improve the modelling of social processes. At the same time, however, this also shows the challenge of every prognosis. The quality of any forecast always depends on the underlying data and assumptions. The less information is available and the more complex the underlying mechanisms are, the more difficult it is to produce reliable forecasts.
On Sunday, 26 September, elections for the Bundestag took place in Germany. The election results constituted a substantial historic defeat for the governing Conservatives (CDU/CSU). At the dawn of the 16 years long era of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Germany now finds itself at a turning point.
The 2020 US election ended with former-Vice President Joe Biden winning the presidency over the Republican incumbent Donald Trump. Against this backdrop, it is important to re-examine the key dynamics of the transatlantic relations and discuss possible implications of the outcome. For us at Miller & Meier Consulting, however, one thing is clear: We can only secure economic prosperity and tackle global challenges if we work jointly to revive the close US-European alliance.
The second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic has severely hit Europe and the US. To cope with the spread of the virus restrictive measures are being (re-)imposed in Europe, arguably for the sake of public health and safety. Meanwhile, governments and policymakers seem to have quickly adapted scientific arguments to justify those rules. This has been widely interpreted as a new way to concentrate power in their hands. Thus, the political response to the COVID-19 crisis is not only driven by power dynamics, but the current situation is also used to leverage the virus to expand and cement power. Because it is not the virus to which we can attribute power. In fact, the real power always lay with politics rather than science or disease – and it continues to do so.