from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An interest group , also called interest group (less often also interest group , interest group ) is supposed to define and represent the interests of a certain social group . Such representations often act as pressure groups in conflict situations , trying to put pressure on decision-makers. The higher the likelihood that such pressure will lead to success, the more powerful the advocacy group.

Basic idea

The term of the interest group is defined as: "A voluntary or through various forms of coercion carried out association of natural or legal persons, which is set up to a minimum, in order to either realize the interests of the members themselves or through participation or influence on community decisions, without to strive to take on political responsibility. "

The basic idea behind the representation of interests is always co-determination , i.e. giving people and companies that are affected by social or other decisions and developments the opportunity to have a say and also to participate in decisions. This serves social peace and is mostly purposeful .

However, since not everyone can consult and negotiate with everyone at the same time, it is usually necessary for the persons represented within the interest group to have the opportunity to jointly and democratically develop a uniform position, which is then supported by the members and followed by the representatives is articulated outside.

Variety of shapes

The interests are mostly derived directly or indirectly from the fundamental rights . The interest groups can be broken down according to these fields of interest (e.g. work, consumers, etc.). In a democracy they are protected by freedom of assembly , association , etc.

Some interest groups are expressly underpinned by legal bases (e.g. works councils through the Works Constitution Act ), others are based exclusively on private initiative (e.g. ADAC , citizens' initiatives ). If they have reached a relevant size and legal form (e.g. association ) as an association or corporation, one speaks of interest groups .

Advocacy but also include works councils , staff councils , student councils , student representatives , parents' meetings in schools and nurseries, home councils in senior facilities and many more in the area of self-government and participation.

In a political context, interest groups include professional representations , business and business associations (the term social partnership is also used for this ), regional representatives ( municipalities , regional associations ) vis-à-vis the state bodies, professional associations and the like.

Influence strategies

The strategies of influencing are diverse. While the outside strategy is primarily aimed at the public and serves to mobilize them, the inside strategy describes a more traditional form of lobbying , which is usually supported by economic interests. Both strategies try to start at different points in the policy cycle .

public relation

Each lobby group must face criticism from the other side in particular, because there are social groups with opposing interests (conflict of interests). The disputes are usually also carried out through the media and the public. A publicity outward and inward (information of the members) is therefore necessary part of a representation.

In the case of the institutionally anchored representation of interests, it must also be taken into account that, for example, information from the participation in a board of directors is often subject to official secrecy (see Administrative Procedure Act ), in the works council there is a duty of confidentiality regarding consultations with employees and in the staff council in the case of pending proceedings .


A key feature of lobbyism is its project character . In contrast to the public relations work of the interest groups, which can be understood as a permanent exchange relationship with politics , lobbying takes place selectively, within specific framework conditions and with the aim of increasing the chances of asserting individual interests.


In Germany there is a possibility for interest groups to represent interests through the joint rules of procedure of the federal ministries , which moves between public relations and lobbying. Section 47 GGO creates a basis for the participation of affected associations in the context of legislative procedures. The relevant responsible ministry is required to request the associations concerned to submit a statement. However, there is no legal right for the associations to have their arguments included in the regulation.


A basic problem can develop when an interest group acts without involving its base, i. H. of the group of people they are supposed to represent and who they z. T. has chosen. An opinion that is not guaranteed to be desired, understood and supported by the majority on the part of the own community is generally also implausible to the outside world and damages the reputation and power of the lobby group.

Furthermore, interest groups can develop which, while safeguarding the economic needs of their economically or politically strong members, can possibly damage the interests of society . Causes can be a lack of awareness of social responsibility and the potentially damaging effects of one's own actions on others or an insistence on ideologies .

In totalitarian states, interest groups are brought into line and controlled by the state.

In this context, the question arises as to whether interest groups must adhere closely to their intended purpose or whether their social responsibility even requires them to take a position on other political issues. For example, the general political mandate is controversial at universities .

Legal bases


A legal basis for the formation of interest groups was created in 1869 with the freedom of trade and in 1867 with the establishment of freedom of association . In the Prussian Empire and the Weimar Republic there was often very close party ties between the associations and the political parties.

The legal basis for works councils is laid down in the Works Constitution Act. The Works Council Act existed as early as 1920 .

Staff councils followed in the 1920s. The work of the staff councils is regulated in the co-determination laws of the federal states, for example in the State Personnel Representation Act Berlin (LPersVG).

The General Student Committees ( AStA ) also came into being in the 1920s. Their work is regulated by the higher education laws of the federal states. However, there are no regulations in Bavaria. The Independent Student Committees ( UStA ) are working there temporarily at the universities.

Participation in senior citizens' homes is also regulated by law ( Home Participation Ordinance ). In student dormitories , the only legal basis resulted from the funding regulations ( e.g. Federal Youth Plan ). The creation of tenants' councils in social housing was discussed by the social-liberal coalition in the early 1980s , but no legal basis was created for it. Despite the lack of legally binding requirements, the Berlin Senate has obliged its state-owned housing associations to form democratically elected tenant councils to represent tenants' interests and to agree guidelines for cooperation. To strengthen tenant co-determination, on January 1, 2016, it decided to set up tenant councils at these companies.

European Union

There is a wide range of stakeholder engagement practices in the European Union. Art. 11 TEU defines the principles for consultation and participation.

See also


  • Marco Althaus, Sven Rawe, u. a. (Ed.): Public Affairs Handbook .
  • Florian Busch-Janser: State and Lobbyism - An Investigation of the Legitimation and Instruments of Entrepreneurial Influence. ISBN 3-938456-00-0 .
  • Alexander Classen: Representation of interests in the European Union. On the legitimacy of political influence. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2014, ISBN 978-3-658-05410-6 .
  • Steffen Dagger; Manuel Lianos: New game, new luck - Public Affairs in Brussels. In: Politics & Communication No. 21, 11/2004 ( pdf ).
  • Steffen Dagger: Energy policy & lobbying: The amendment of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) 2009 , ibidem-Verlag, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 3-8382-0057-8 .
  • Willi Dickhut : Unions and class struggle. Verlag Neuer Weg, Düsseldorf 1988, ISBN 3-88021-169-8 .
  • Thomas Leif, Rudolf Speth (ed.): The fifth power. Lobbyism in Germany. Wiesbaden 2006.
  • Mirco Milinewitsch: Professionalization of the mediation of interests through external public affairs management. ISBN 3-938456-50-7 .
  • Adi Ostertag , K. Buchholz, K. Klesse, R. Schmidt: Codetermination and representation of interests. Qualified participation in theory and practice. Bund-Verlag, Cologne 1981, ISBN 3-7663-0504-2 .
  • Martin Schwarz-Kocher, Eva Kirner, Jürgen Dispan, Angela Jäger, Ursula Richter, Bettina Seibold, Ute Weißfloch: Representing interests in the innovation process. The influence of co-determination and employee participation on company innovations. Edition Sigma, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-8360-8725-4 .
  • Ulrich Willems, Thomas von Winter: Interest groups as intermediary organizations. To change their structures, functions, strategies and effects in a changed environment. In the same (ed.): Interest groups in Germany. Wiesbaden 2007, pp. 13-50.

Web links

Wiktionary: advocacy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. and
  2. Quoted from Heinz Sahner: Clubs and associations in modern society. In: Heinrich Best (Hrsg.): Clubs in Germany. From secret society to free social organization. Bonn 1993, pp. 11–118, there p. 26.
  3. ^ Willems, von Winter (2007): Interest groups as intermediary organizations. On the change in their structures, functions, strategies and effects in a changed environment , p. 35
  4. Leif, Speth (2006): The fifth power. Lobbyism in Germany. P. 14.
  5. Joint Rules of Procedure of the Federal Ministries ( Memento from September 16, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  6. Berlin Housing Supply Act - WoVG Bln - GVBl. No. 25 of December 5, 2015, pages 422-426.