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Finally the level of group activity fluctuates in

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Finally, the level of group activity fluctuates in relation to shifts inpublicpolicy, particularly the degree to which the state intervenes in economic andsociallife.Asageneralrule,interventionismgoeshand-in-handwithcorporatism, although there is a debate about which is the cause and which istheeffect.Dointerventionistpoliciesforcegovernmentintoacloserrelationship with organized interests in the hope of gaining information,advice and cooperation? Or do groups exploit their access to government toextract subsidies, supports and other benefits for their members? Whateverthe answer is, it is clear that, amongst western states, the integration oforganized interests, particularly functional interests, into public life has beentaken furthest where social-democratic policies have been pursued.Interventionism: Government policies designed to regulate or manage economic life; morebroadly, a policy of engagement or involvement.The Swedish system is the classic example of this. Interest groups constitute an integral part of the Swedish political scene at every level. There areclose, if not institutional, links between the trade unions and the SocialDemocratic Labour Party (SAP). The legislative process in theRiksdagisgearedtowideconsultationwithaffectedinterests,andstateofficialsrecognize ‘peak’ associations such as the Swedish Trade Union Confederationand the Employers’ Confederation as ‘social partners’. A similar pattern ofcorporate representation has developed in the Austrian ‘chamber’ system,
which provides statutory representation for major interests such as commerce,agriculture and labour. In Germany, key economic groups such as theFederation of German Employers’ Associations, the Federation of GermanIndustry and the German Trades Union Federation are so closely involved inpolicy formulation that the system has been described as one of ‘polyarchicelitism’.How do groups exert influence?Interest groups have at their disposal a broad range of tactics and politicalstrategies. Indeed, it is almost unthinkable that a group should confine itself toa single strategy or try to exert influence through just one channel ofinfluence. The methods that groups use vary according to a number of factors.These include the issue with which the group is concerned and how policy inthat area is shaped. For instance, in the UK, since most policies relating tocivil liberties and political rights are developed by the Ministry of Justice, agroup such as Liberty is compelled to seek ‘insider’ status, which it does byemphasizing itsspecialist knowledge and political respectability. Similarly, thenature of the group and the resources at its disposal are crucial determinantsof its political strategy. These resources include the following:public sympathy for the group and its goalsthe size of its membership or activist baseits financial strength and organizational capabilitiesits ability to use sanctions that in some way inconvenience or disruptgovernmentpersonal or institutional links it may have to political parties or governmentbodies.

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