Lobbywatch.ch is a non-commercial journalistic project that operates a web-based research tool for media professionals and a politically interested audience. Lobbywatch.ch focuses on the connections between Swiss Members of Parliament and companies, associations and institutions and it investigates the influence of these organization in the legislative process. Not only the number of mandates of a MP is relevant, but also the actual influence of companies, associations, organisations and institutions. The control of non-transparent interests against the background of parliamentary decision-making is important for a democracy. With Lobbywatch.ch, current decisions of the Swiss Parliament can be questioned efficiently and conflicts of interest of political exponents can be critically examined.
Project Business Case
Lobbywatch.ch is a strictly non-profit project. The target audience are on the one hand journalists, on the other hand people interested in Swiss politics and the mechanism behind it. Lobbywatch.ch is financed through member fees and contributions. For major projects such as the visualization of the data (in 2017) and the coverage of the national elections in 2019, foundations and the "Lotteriefonds" of the cantons are being approached for additional funding.
Since its incorporation in the autumn of 2014, Lobbywatch.ch has demanded from Swiss MPs to openly declare their extra-parliamentary activities (which are only incompletely declared on the website of the Swiss parliament www.parlament.ch). The activities of Lobbywatch.ch have not gone unnoticed in the Swiss Parliament. It has become if not a habit then an often used practice by MPs to declare one's potential conflicts of interested when addressing the Parliament. Furthermore, Lobbywatch.ch has tackled the widely neglected issue of income of MPs through extra-parliamentary activities by actively asking the MPs to declare them. MPs who do declare their income are then mentioned on an annual "transparency list" published by Lobbywatch.ch. The share of MPs declaring their income has thus risen from 15 to 25 percent within two years. Furthermore, members of the board of Lobbywatch.ch are often quoted as experts in lobbying issues in Swiss media.
In recent years, the Swiss Parliament has refuted almost any proposal for more transparency. Lobbywatch has filled this gap by investigating and publishing data about extra-parliamentary activities (and potential conflicts of interest emerging from them) of Swiss MPs in easily accessible form. Considering that transparency is an important aspect of a functioning democracy, there would be a considerable backlash in this respect if Lobbywatch.ch ceased to exist.
License: OSI/FSD-approved free software license
Maturity: We are well established and many people are using it
Number of Contributors: 4
Number of Commits: 100