The PSoe and UP governments interacted more with interest groups, unions and NGOs than those of the PP between 2012 and 2021

Iván Medina, researcher at the Department of Constitutional Law, Political Scien
Iván Medina, researcher at the Department of Constitutional Law, Political Science and Administration of the UV and Laura Chaqués, of Political Sciences at the University of Barcelona.
A study comparing the governments led by Mariano Rajoy (Popular Party) with those led by the socialist Pedro Sánchez (in coalition with Unidas Podemos) between 2012 and 2021 highlight that those of the PSoe-UP have interacted with more groups of interest and unions and on a more regular basis to discuss their proposals. The study, published in the Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas, has analysed 2,409 informal meetings (those that allow positioning or exploring issues before parliamentary work).

The importance of this work, prepared by the universities of Valencia (UV) and Barcelona (UB), lies in the fact that for the first time it analyses the dynamics of informal interaction between interest groups and members of the Government, a novelty compared to existing studies in the subject, focused on the participation of groups in formal settings such as government advisory commissions, government agencies or government consultations. The study is also innovative because it analyses data from bilateral meetings over a decade, which explains the importance of changes in government and party dynamics.

Iván Medina, researcher at the Department of Constitutional Law, Political Science and Administration of the UV, highlights that there are differences in the percentages of meetings with different interest groups depending on the government. The popular government has had 8% more meetings with environmental associations, 5% more with sectoral business organisations and nearly 3% more with companies. The socialist government, on the other hand, has held 9% more meetings with unions and 2% more with local government associations, among others.

Laura Chaqués, full professor of Political Sciences at the University of Barcelona, also co-author of the paper, explains that meetings between members of the Government and civic, identity and NGO associations also vary significantly throughout the period. The percentage of bilateral meetings during the governments led by Mariano Rajoy maintains a more stable dynamic: 22.3% in 2013 and 33.6% in 2016. During the governments led by Pedro Sánchez in 2018, 38.8% of the meetings are with this type of organisations, a percentage that falls to 15.2% during the pandemic.

"The analysis of the central government agendas tells us that business associations have held a greater number of meetings with the government during the period 2012-2021, ahead of social associations and unions. In any case, the study shows that the political party in government has the capacity to balance the access of business interests: the arrival of the PSoe and Unidas Podemos to the government gave unions and social associations a greater voice, especially due to the promotion of an expansive social policy agenda and for having increased the number of ministries", highlights Iván Medina.

Regarding bilateral meetings between members of the Government and employers or companies, the percentage exceeds 57% of the total meetings in 2014, 47% of the meetings with employers and 8.3% with companies. The members of the coalition government also met mostly with employers and companies, but with less intensity, just over 40% between 2019 and 2021.

On the other hand, meetings between the Government and unions follow an inverse dynamic. Between 2011 and 2015, the percentage of meetings between the ministers of Rajoy’s first government with union organisations does not exceed 6% of the total. This situation reversed starting in 2018, after the PSoe government came to power, and especially under the coalition government. From that moment on, the percentage of Government meetings with unions increases exponentially to exceed 17% of the total bilateral meetings with interest groups between 2019 and 2021.


The research has been developed from an original database compiled by the Quality of Democracy Research Group (Q-Dem) that includes 2,409 bilateral meetings between successive central governments and interest groups in the period 2012-2021. The database has been prepared from data from the agenda of the members of the government that La Moncloa has published daily on its website since 2012 .

Article reference : Medina, Iván; Chaqués-Bonafont, Laura (2024). ’Acceso de los grupos de interés a la arena gubernamental: un estudio comparativo de los gobiernos de Mariano Rajoy y Pedro Sánchez (2012-2021)’. Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas , 186: 123’142 . (doi: 10.5477/cis/reis.186.123’142 )