Politicians Are Switching To Business?

Politicians who switch to the corporate world often get negative in the news. This creates an image of ‘revolving door politicians’, without it being clear whether this is justified. This article explains what kind of Dutch ex-politicians had a great chance of ending up in the business world in the past ten years.

 

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At the beginning of 2016, VVD MP Bart de Liefde decided to continue his career as a lobbyist at the transport brokerage company Uber. A salient detail is that as a Member of Parliament two years earlier, as spokesman for Competition, he made a plea for Uber. It is not the first time that a politician has made a remarkable switch to the private sector. The best-known example in the Netherlands is Camiel Eurlings who, shortly after his departure as Minister of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, became CEO of KLM. The most striking example in 2016 at the international level was José Manuel Barroso. The former president of the European Commission found a job at Goldman Sachs in London.

Reasons to switch

Whether switching from politics to business is socially desirable is under discussion. For example, it is undesirable for a politician to do favors to a company in the hope of later getting a lucrative job in return. On the other hand, it is also undesirable if an ex-politician does not have the opportunity to use his knowledge and experience where it is best used. Mattozzi and Merlo (2008) argue that there are two types of political careers: there are people who are primarily politicians – they remain active in politics until retirement – and there are people who are active in politics for a while – they time to switch back to the private sector. According to the authors, the most skilled politicians choose to send signals about their skills to the labor market, while the least skilled politicians – due to their poor performance – are forced to leave the political sector. As a result, both the best and the worst politicians end up in the private sector, while the middle-rank in the political sector lags behind. The second reason that may play a role is a political ideology. The idea is that right-wing MPs are more often out to monetize their political careers. That taking right-wing positions is often accompanied by a greater focus on self-interest has been confirmed by, for example, Powdthavee and Oswald (2014).

Dataset and estimate

The Dutch ex-politicians in this study are all members of parliament and ministers and state secretaries who, between 2006 and mid-2016, left the House or their posts or did not return to their party’s electoral list. The ex-politicians are divided into three groups, depending on where they worked in mid-2016: in the private sector (e.g. lobbyist, entrepreneur, or consultant), in the local political sector (e.g. municipal councilor, mayor, or alderman), or other (e.g. NGO employee, teacher, pensioner). If an ex-politician has multiple jobs, including one in the private sector, he counts in this analysis as working in the private sector. For example, former Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende works as a professor at Erasmus University and as an advisor at Ernst & Young, so he is assigned to the private sector. In this study, he has been assigned to the private sector. The information for this research was obtained via the website of the Parliamentary Documentation Center, the LinkedIn site of the ex-politicians, and from various news sources. The following are included as explanatory variables: the list position (1 for the party leader, 2 for the number two, etc.) the (party) ideology on the left-right spectrum of Kieskompas (between -6.5 for a SP’er and 7 for a VVD member) and whether an ex-politician has a job history in the private sector. All regressions were also controlled for age, age squared, gender, political experience, and education level. It has been estimated with a probit model. The dataset contains a total of 150 outgoing politicians in that period. As of mid-2016, 48 of them were employed in the private sector, 61 in the political sector, and 41 others.

THE FASCINATION OF DIGITAL GAMES

Digital games are now a cultural asset in some countries – even quite officially. But even before the recording, digital games were already a significant part of the leisure culture, especially for young people and young adults. According to the 2018 JIM study, almost two-thirds of German young people consume digital games daily or at least several times a week. On average, teenagers around the world spend almost two hours a day playing digital games. Click here for tips on how to score on Coin Master and get free spins.

WHY ARE DIGITAL GAMES SO POPULAR?

The fascination with digital games is based on several factors. On the one hand, it is based on the gaming experience itself, on the other hand on the existing gaming culture, in which social networks and streaming platforms also play a role. Certain mechanics occur in many games and have a motivating effect on the players. These game mechanics include:

  • Feedback/reward: The activities of the players lead to an immediate feedback of the performance. This can take the form of a point win, a status indicator, or an in-game event, for example. Other examples of rewards in digital games include badges, level rises, virtual item preservation, or skill build-up.
  • Rankings: The competitive character can be enhanced by rankings and thus have a motivating effect on the players. You can therefore compare the services provided with those of others.
  • Cooperation: Certain games require the collaboration of multiple players. The team spirit and the possible competition in the fight against other teams can provide motivation here.
  • Storytelling: Narrative structures are a central part of many games. The progress of the story and possibly the identification with certain characters can motivate players to continue playing.
  • Difficulty levels: Many games work with different levels of difficulty, so groups of players with different game experiences and skills have chances of success.
  • Trial-and-error principle: If the players fail to reach a goal within digital games at the first attempt, they can usually complete the corresponding section of the game again without major consequences.

ONLINE GAMES AS SOCIAL NETWORKS

Online games have become virtual places of social interaction, where chatting or communicating via headset. For many youngsters, the game mechanics themselves play only a minor role. They meet up with friends in online games like Fortnite, with the game world fading into the background. Certain games have now established themselves as social spaces and have replaced social networks such as Facebook, especially for younger users. Manners from digital games are also transferred into real life. A prominent example are the dances from Fortnite, which are now even performed by football professionals as a form of goal celebration.

Despite or just because of their popularity, many online games face similar challenges as traditional social networks. Here, too, there are phenomena such as cyberbullying, fake news and hate speech. Above all, the anonymity of the users through the use of avatars and nicknames creates the breeding ground for corresponding appearances.

FASCINATION LET’S PLAY VIDEOS

Watching other players play – one could describe the basic principle of so-called Let’s Play videos in one way or another. Well-known platforms for Let’s Play videos are mainly YouTube and Twitch. Many online shops for games (e.g. the xbox ingenues of the Xbox and PlayStation game consoles) have already linked their game offerings directly to Let’s Play videos and live streams of the respective games. In addition to the entertainment factor, they also offer interested parties a first authentic practical impression of the respective games.

The fascination with Let’s Play videos is based on several factors: On the one hand, behind each channel is a personality that makes its viewers feel familiar with them. At the same time, this forms communities. Live streams of the games offer the possibility of social interaction through communication possibilities such as chats. In addition, many videos simply have an entertainment value, as the streamers inferior the game with funny comments and personal anecdotes. When the streamers respond to chat statements from fans, they also make them feel close. This is particularly relevant, as many Let’s players now enjoy megastars status within their target groups.

A business political settlement which pleases hunters

From the horns of the hunters, and the relative calm on the side of the nature organizations, it can be concluded that the first group in particular benefits from the less strict hunting rules that the PvdA and VVD have negotiated with State Secretary Dijksma of Nature.

The PvdA minister had included in her new natural law that business hunters must submit a shooting plan before they are allowed to shoot at the five animal species on the so-called ‘wild list‘. That proposal has been brought down by the coalition.

During a parliamentary debate it appeared that the VVD threatened to vote against the entire natural law if the paragraph on hunting remained so strict. The PvdA came up with an interim proposal. Hunters may continue to shoot rabbit, hare, mallard, wood pigeon and pheasant without any prior administration, but must report afterwards to a so-called Wildlife Management Unit.

Understanding the Numbers of big game

These provincial wildlife management units are already functioning when it comes to population management and damage control. Terrain owners, hunters, managers and farmers collectively collect data on numbers of large game, determine how much game an area can handle and then determine the necessary and therefore uncontroversial shot.

In the proposal of the PvdA and VVD, the task of the fauna management units is expanded and the composition broadened. Hunters will now have to report their proceeds from the ‘pleasure hunt’ to them, while the units will be expanded to include representatives from animal welfare organizations. They also get the right to vote.

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The Limited influence

This could be organizations which already have a seat in it when it comes to population management. But now ‘animal welfare‘ is also becoming a subject to be tested. The Animal Protection is a new club that can join, and it wants to. The influence of such an organization on the policy of the fauna management units is uncertain. But if one of the five or six partners, it will be limited.

VVD and PvdA say that with such a portfolio of ‘animal welfare‘ the supervision of pleasure hunting will be broadened and deepened. Nevertheless, the new plan seems in everything to be a political compromise, which offers hunters more space and puts ‘social organizations’ in a difficult position. Their backers are green citizens who sometimes link animal killing and game eating to the trend of sustainable food.

Animal welfare during the hunt

Most donors and members are mainly concerned about the animal welfare that they believe is at stake in hunting. They still accept that ‘their club’ has a say in shooting in the context of damage control, although the cooperation of the nature organizations in the gassing of hundreds of thousands of geese was already a lot more difficult. It is precisely that part of the constituency that will have great difficulty if their organization has a say in the conditions of pleasure yachts. In their view, hunting has nothing to do with protection.

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