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Interest Representation in Illiberal Times

How does democratic backsliding affect interest representation and intermediation? Surprisingly, searching for such studies on Google Scholar will not lead to many relevant hits if any. Indeed, interest organisation and lobbying research based even today mostly on North American and Western European cases is all too focused on the organisational level in explaining interest groups access to policy makers and their influence realisation. The presentation fills in this research gap. The analysis conducted on a sample of interest groups active at the national level in three policy domains across four Central and Eastern European EU member states reveals that the political process influences access: the relative importance of the legislature for interest groups and the level of legislative fractionalisation affect access positively, while the closure of deliberative structures has a negative effect. Nevertheless, the political contextual factors are mediated through variables both at the population and organisational levels, as well as interorganisational cooperation.

The study is part of joint project of the University of Konstanz, Germany and the University of Opole, Poland, ‘The “Missing Link”: Examining organized interests in post-communist policy-making’. The research project, which concludes this December, combines the organizational counts of national level Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and Slovenian energy policy, healthcare, and higher education interest group populations with a comparative survey carried out in 2019-2020 in the four countries simultaneously.

The lecture by Rafael Labanino (Research Fellow, University of Konstanz) also briefly discussed other studies of our research agenda that provide context to the presented quantitative analysis.

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