The Journal of Legislative Studies Pub Date : 2021-04-05 , DOI: 10.1080/13572334.2021.1905327 Sebastián Vallejo Vera
In democratic politics, the participation of interest groups in policymaking is commonly understood as a secluded affair. Why would interest groups and policymakers make public an otherwise private affair? I argue that legislators invite interest groups to participate in the legislative process to raise the salience of issues they ”own”. Legislators with gatekeeping authority, I show, bring interest groups into committees when their party benefits from raising public attention. Interest groups, on their part, are given preferential access to finetune laws that directly affect them. Extensions of the model show that participation increases before an election and declines after, with issue salience providing electoral benefits rather than policy ones. I test my argument using an original dataset of 4902 instances of interest group participation in committee meetings in the Ecuadorian Congress between 1988 and 2018, as well as over 30 interviews to interest group representatives, legislators, and congressional staff.