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Yasamayı Engelleme Amaçlı Lobicilik: Filibuster

Author(s): Kadir CANÖZ

Journal: Selcuk Universitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitusu Dergisi
ISSN 1302-1796

Issue: 21;
Start page: 157;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: Filibuster | lobbying | legislation | parliamentarian | senate

Lobbying tries various tactics and methods to influence the legislature in accordance to a desired output. Among thesenumerous and different practices are providing information, drawing up reports, making speeches, making in-depth research,giving dinners, conferences, support with funding, making publicity for advocacy and to impede legislative processes byfilibustering. The most different, most attention attracting and the one seen as a last stand by lobbyists is filibustering.Filibustering is defined as impeding the functioning of the legislature by occupying the rostrum with time consuming longspeeches with the aim to prevent the passing through of a law and the senator who does this is named as “Filibusterer” or“Filibustier”. To achieve obstruction, the Filibustier uses his right of speech in the legislature to make a never ending speechrelated or unrelated to the issue under discussion with the aim to extend the sessions beyond endurance and so trying to thwartthe legislation unwanted by him/her. Attempts of this kind are relatively frequent used in Canada, France, the UK, and the USAwhile they are rarely to be seen in some European democracies as Norway, the Netherlands, and Sweden.Filibustering arises from the attempt of member(s) of the legislative body to delay and so impede the passing through of aparticular opposed bill by making irrelevant long speeches that drag out the process. As “opposed to death” issues come intoagenda, some opposing parliamentary members have been seen as actually blocking the going over to the voting process byclimbing up the podium with meal boxes, fruit, dessert and water, prepared to speak for hours, even days. The theme of thespeech is not supposed to be in any relation with the subject under discussion, it is said that Senators reciting Shakespeare or cakerecipes of their wives were witnessed.Although not definitely and sufficiently documented, according to Binder and Smith, the historical roots of Filibustering goback to the Dutch word “Vrijbuiter”, pronounced in early years in English as “flibutor”, to be transformed with time into theEnglish synonymous “Freebooter”, both used for Pirate. During the XVII. century, these Freebooters consisted mainly of British,Dutch and French pirates which formed sometimes large groups called “Flibustiers” to plunder the then Spanish Colony of TheWest Indies. The transformation to “Filibuster” is documented in early as 1851. It was used for North American adventurerspursuing to overthrow particularly Latin American regimes.In the USA, Filibustering came into existence in 1806 when time limits for speeches of senators –as different from speechesof the representatives- have been removed. However, it remained only as a theoretical option until 1841, when it began to be usedmore frequently, causing disturbance which led to the formation of the opinion of filibustering as a regulation that obstructslegislation. But through the developing decades of democracy, the belief of its necessity came into demand again and from on thebeginnings of the new century, the word has been used regularly as a revolting technique of opposition senators to hinder billsunwanted by them.Today, speaking in the Senate for filibustering is known as an obstructive act which doesn’t need a diplomatic, very technicaland noble language. Established rules in the U.S. Senate give a senator or a group of senators the right to speak freely on any issuechosen by them, until a 3/5 majority of the Senate demands to end the debate and go on with voting. This right is called the“filibuster right”.This right which gives senators the right for speaking indefinitely on the basis of freedom of speech can serve the purpose topredict and prevent a law that has incomplete, negative and deficient sides. With time, filibustering has changed and gone beyondan act done solely by speaking, which one of them is “procedural filibustering”. Practiced more by parliamentarians belonging tothe opposition, filibustering is not an unlimited right. There are some rules that set limits to its use, for instance the “cloture” usedin the U.S. Senate.Cloture is a regulation that allows in some stages of the legislative process the shortening of the debates to accelerate legislationactivities. With this regulation, the obstruction of legislation by opponent members is prevented. Procedures as these are calledrestrictive procedures.In the instance of the U.S. Senate which consists of 100 members, a simple majority of 51 votes is enough for passing a bill,though; to stop filibustering as “opposition to the death” requires sometimes 60 votes. 60 votes form the legal limit of saving the legislation from being savaged. In American political tradition, filibustering -the right to legal piracy- can not be used against billsthat received 60 votes or more in the first voting. This 3/5 “super majority” is named “cloture” with a loanword from French.Although filibustering which is practiced particularly by senators of the minority party or individual senators is aimed towardshindering the legislation, it has also a function of alerting and informing those who might be affected by a particular legislation –afunction appreciated by lawmakers and lobbyists as well. Particularly in instances where the parliamentarians don’t have enoughinformation about the bill under discussion, the staging of a filibustering of well informed parliamentarians can shake the publicto incite an informing and reviving debate.Added to the information function, the interest of lukewarm citizens and parliamentarians as well can be aroused. Particularly“taking advantage from inattentiveness” as used in Wagner-style lobbying can be prevented.The bill getting a real discussion by every aspect, can expose overlooked or unexpected flaws, predict crippled functions,deficiencies and can help making laws complete.While parliamentarians as representatives of the people resort to filibustering to prevent the passing of unwanted bills, theyabolish also the single-voiced in the legislature and carry alternative views and thoughts into the agenda; this constitutes a vitalcontribution to maintain a democratic environment.In the Turkish Great National Assembly, the legislative body in Turkey, filibuster-style long speeches are not possible becausethe 58th, the 59th, 60, 61, 66, 67, 68 and 69th articles of the internal regulation contain rules related to speeches. These regulationsset detailed limits to who, which group, how long, how many times, in which instances is allowed to speak. As a result, theopposition or minority parliamentarians who don’t defend the issue are not allowed to make legislation hindering lobbying bymaking long speeches. In the viewpoint of Turkey, the valid reason for this is pointed out as enabling the legislation to proceedfaster.In conclusion, in the legislatures of some countries, filibustering which can give minority parliamentarians a chance forexpressing their standpoints and for being heard, can enable also the bills to be discussed elaborately, but also can be used as alobbying technique for preventing the passing of a law. Attributing this right to Turkish parliamentarians may contribute to theprogress of the democratic environment.

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