The word “lobbyist” was first used in Britain to refer to journalists waiting in corridors (lobbies) at the House of Commons, waiting to interview decision makers. In 1829 in the US, the word lobby-agents described privilege-seekers in New York’s capital, Albany. Three years later the abbreviation “lobbyist” became frequently used in Washington.
It took quite some time for the concepts of “lobbying” and “lobbyists” to spread to other European countries. The French media, for example, only started talking about lobbying in the 1980’s, while the Italian media picked up the subject in relation to the “Tangentopoli” affairs in the mid 1990’s.
Lobbyists work for consultancies, for industry, trade bodies or associations, civil society, unions, regions or municipalities and even to defend countries’ interests.