Revolving door – What is it, definition and concept

Revolving door is an expression that refers to the situation in which a senior public official leaves or ends his position in the public sector, going on to occupy a senior position in the private sector. Usually for a large company.

Therefore, when we talk about revolving doors, we are almost always referring to the situation in which a senior public official leaves his position, or ends his position, later occupying a senior position in a company in the private sector.

This expression is used pejoratively. Since, in the vast majority of cases, these movements are made to use the figure of this high representative for the benefit of the company and the employer. Given that the person has held positions of responsibility in the Public Administration, he or she is well acquainted with how it works, as well as having contacts and friends within the Administration itself.

For this reason, companies hire this person, to try to take advantage of those contacts, knowledge, as well as everything that this position has brought him, and make a profit for the company.

Revolving doors in the world: The Amakudari in Japan

Although the expression refers to Spain, we must say that this type of practice is present throughout the world.

In Japan, for example, the politician or official who moves from the public sector to the private sector is called “Amakudari”. Like the revolving doors, the Amakudari is that Japanese senior official who leaves his position in the public sector to join the private sector, the business world.

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Therefore, we are talking about a practice that is very present in Spain, but very widespread throughout the planet.

Why does a company hire a politician?

We usually use this expression in a pejorative way due to the fact that there have been many cases in which this practice has been used for illegal purposes and that they represent a crime.

But it must be said that this practice has not always been done for criminal purposes.

When is it a crime to hire a politician?

Public office, as we know, has power and contacts within the Administration. These contacts that you have can be used by a private company to obtain a benefit or a favored treatment.

For this reason, companies hire these public officials. In this way, these politicians or officials act as representatives of the company and, using everything that their position in the Administration and in the State has brought them, they pursue a benefit for the company that, without it, they would not have been able to obtain.

However, this does not always have to be the case.

When is it not a crime to hire a politician?

Imagine the case of a consulting company that advises other companies on subsidies and public tenders.

This company looks for profiles that are very familiar with the bureaucracy and with the State. Taking into account that many technical profiles that work for the State can leave their jobs, it would not be crazy for this company to hire them. Well, you need this type of profiles to advise clients and use the know-how they have to carry out the services they offer.

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Likewise, there are companies that use these profiles to gain fame and credibility. Since public office has a reputation, your figure can be used to make our clients trust us more. In the same way, the presence of said position in our company may give us prestige, seriousness, among other things.

Therefore, in a large majority of cases it may be a fraudulent action. However, there are always exceptions that we must take into account.

Revolving doors and the Law of incompatibilities

In Spain, as well as in other parts of the world, revolving doors, whatever they are called, are combated with laws such as the Law of Incompatibilities.

These types of laws are applied to prevent politicians from carrying out this type of practice. Or, at least, to prevent them from doing so in sectors or companies in which their presence can be considered a crime.

In Spain, Law 5/2006, which regulates the conflicts of interest of members of the Government and Senior Officials of the General State Administration, prevents this type of crime. To do this, this law establishes what they can do and how they can do it.

But this law, in addition to Spain, is present in Japan, the United States and, ultimately, in all those countries where democracy prevails.

Example of revolving doors

There are numerous examples of revolving doors around the world. However, let us see some specific cases in Spain that can be defined as such.

A clear example of a revolving door is the case of Felipe González in 2010. After leaving the presidency of the Government in 1996, he began working at Gas Natural, a public company, as a director of the company. An action by former President Felipe González that was described as a “revolving door” by citizens in the country and the main media.

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Similarly, in 2011, the former Prime Minister José María Aznar joined Endesa as a director. After leaving his post as President of the Government in 2004, former President Aznar joined this public company, its board of directors, this event being branded by the press as another case of “revolving doors”.

And we are talking about presidents, but the example of Spain gives us the opportunity to present cases of numerous vice presidents and ministers who, like the previous ones, were described by the press and society as “revolving doors”.

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