As the first municipality in Norway, Trondheim now introduces a lobby register. We cheer them on, and ask in good Norwegian fashion: “What’s not to like?”
The discussion about establishing a lobby register comes up on a regular basis, but unfortunately, until now secrecy has prevailed repeatedly. Therefore, the initiative to Trondheim is valuable. Someone must have the courage to lead.
In Geelmuyden Kiese, transparency is one of our core values, and we have been working for a more open society for almost 30 years. Consequently, we have incorporated transparency into our strategic documents and we have open customer lists so everyone can see who we work for, and together with. Why we do this? Because we are convinced that transparency leads to better decisions, which in turn leads to a better society.
Lobbying – or participating as we like to call it – has a solid historical anchoring in the Norwegian society, and we can all recall the chapter on the corporate channel from the social education classes in school. It is perfectly legitimate to be part of the democratic processes – whether through representation of a small entrepreneurial company or a non-profit organization, both of which see their framework conditions under pressure – and work to ensure your interests are met. Anything else is irresponsible and could, as an example, put jobs at risk.
Fortunately, we live in a country where there still is an unusual short distance between the man in the street to the politicians in the Parliament. Through social media, we follow the politicians’ everyday doings, and through the Freedom of Information Act we are given access to the communications between us and the government. For us, it is therefore incomprehensible that a lobby register still is far away, even though both PR agencies and other players have long welcomed such a registry. Obviously, the lobby register must also apply to everyone else who contributes to our community, such as lawyers, companies, organizations and private individuals. We do not want to speculate on the cause of resistance among our elected representatives, but we do find that the lobby registers work well in countries we like to compare ourselves to. Therefore, we cheer on our friends in Trondheim, and wonder if the Parliament dares to follow Trondheim’s example.
So I say as Hans Geelmuyden: “Hold on, stay strong! Transparency will prevail!”