What do politicians do after politics? ‘There should be a cooldown’

After his political career, almost one in five MPs will work as a business advocate or an industry organisation, according to research by the Open State Foundation, in collaboration with de Volkskrant.

The Open State Foundation, an organization that works for a digitally transparent government, criticizes the transition of some MPs. The foundation therefore opens a new site where everyone can see which organizations former politicians have left for: opendraaideur.nl.

It concerns MPs who will work in an industry organisation (13.2 percent) or at a lobby office (5.5 percent). In addition, 12 percent also gained a position in business. According to the Open State Foundation there are people who lobby, but it‘s hard to say how much exactly. Some people who do advocate interests do not have the function of a lobbyist and there is no unambiguous definition of the term, says Serv Wiemers, director of the Open State Foundation.

โ€œThere are two major problems,โ€ says Wiemers. โ€œIf a Member of Parliament moves to an industry or lobbying organization, they have more knowledge and access to power than others. That could lead to an unbalanced lobby. And vice versa, politicians can be influenced by what they want to do next during their political career. They may think that they have to accommodate certain interest groups, because they want to go to jail after their term of office.โ€

Recently, there have been several shifts from (former) politicians to the role of advocacy. Former VVD MP Helma Lodders started working as chairman of Vee and Logistics Netherlands and is president of VNLOK, an industry association for the gambling industry. PvdA-MP Angelien Eijsink became president of the Dutch Industry Foundation for Defence and Security this month.

Cora van Nieuwenhuizen

Well known example is Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, not a member of parliament but Minister for Infrastructure and Water Management until last summer. She is now working as chairman of the energy industry association. This fiercely criticized change makes the subject of conflict of interest again more prominent on the agenda after a political career.

Bert van den Braak, parliamentary historian, thinks the switch from Van Nieuwenhuizen is somewhat different from such a move from a Member of Parliament. โ€œVan Nieuwenhuizen had a knowledge advantage because she was present for example at meetings where information was not yet known was discussed.โ€

File Knowledge and Network

โ€œIn the case of a Member of Parliament, that is not the case, but they do have file knowledge and a network in The Hague. How bad is it that former MPs have that? It can lead to inequality in applications, but otherwise it is more of a moral question.โ€

Van den Braak doesn’t think that some of the MPs would end up somewhere as advocates. โ€œIf you compare it to the past, the flow rate of MPs is much greater.โ€ The career of MPs used to be longer and they often retired after their membership of the Chamber.

In

the meantime, the composition of the Chamber is changing and there is more need from the parties to renew MPs, says Van den Braak. โ€œThe waiting time scheme used to be more riant, you didn‘t even have a job job at the time.โ€

Access Pass

According to Wiemers, MPs are popular, among other things, because of the access pass they receive after their departure to continue visiting the Second Chamber building. This allows them to maintain their contacts at the center of power.

The study shows that 56 MPs made a switch to business, a lobby office or an industry organisation within two years. Nearly two-thirds of that group continued in a sector that was in the policy area with which he or she had also dealt with in the Chamber. โ€œThat’s not good for transparency and democracy,โ€ says Wiemers. โ€œThere should be a cooldown period, at least for the area where you worked.โ€