Importance and Influence of Interest Groups in Welfare Policymaking Processes - Seen Through Citizens’ Lenses- the Case of North Macedonia
Keywords:Interest groups; North Macedonia; Welfare; Perceptions
AbstractThis paper aims to explore the influence of interest groups regarding social welfare policies implemented in North Macedonia and analyze how this influence is perceived through citizens’ lenses. Considering the importance of interest groups in democratic systems where principles of good governance should be implemented, it is of main importance to explore at what extent interest groups contribute or affect processes of policy-making. What are some interest groups that can be considered as influential and have the highest levels of membership referring to social policies? How do citizen-beneficiaries perceive current Macedonian welfare state and what is their perception regarding the role of interest groups in pushing policy processes? The purpose of the paper is to explore associations that aim to protect public interest and influence decision making as much as groups serving narrow interests in the field of social policy. There is increasing recognition of the emergence of new and pernicious interest groups, which have influence on policymaking. Methodologically, this research is designed based on a desk research, literature review and empirical research, conducted in the period of October 2019 – March 2020. The perceptions are being measured through questionnaires that have been conducted with random individuals (beneficiaries/not beneficiaries of social services) with the aim to have some insights on behalf of their perceptions regarding the welfare/social protection system and additionally have some evidence of their participation in interest groups as well. The results of this research show low levels of participation and trust of citizens in interest groups and little contentment regarding welfare policies and delivery of social services, in the country.