Several large press organizations have teamed up with Transparency International Norge and a communications trade association to campaign for an obligatory register of all meetings between politicians and lobbyists. Not all politicians favour what’s billed as a new spirit of openness.
The parliament’s leadership is due to vote next month on whether the parliament should usher in a lobbyist register, similar to what’s already common in some other countries and at the European Union. Supporters of the measure, proposed by the Liberal Party (Venstre), want a system for monitoring which lobbyists meet with which politicians, and why, to disclose attempts at influence peddling.
“We think that openness will lead to better decision-making, and that the public discussion will improve,” Kjersti Løkken Stavrum, secretary general of the Norwegian Press Federation, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “Knowing who has strong personal or economic interests in various issues is a good thing.”
Member of Parliament Michel Tetzschner of the Conservative Party (Høyre) disagrees, referring to the proposal as “totalitarian thinking” and a threat to freedom of expression. He also finds it a paradox that press organizations, which otherwise nurture a free flow of information and stress the need to keep sources of information confidential, is campaigning to register contact between lobbyists and politicians.
Tetzschner also thinks the register would be difficult to enforce. It’s envisioned as being electronic and searchable for all.