Born in Bregenz, Vorarlberg, Martin worked for the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel. As a freelance writer, he has written and co-authored several popular books, among them the best-selling The Global Trap: Globalization and the Assault on Prosperity and Democracy (Die Globalisierungsfalle, 1996), Bitter Pills (Bittere Pillen) about the pros and cons of pharmaceuticals and The European Trap (Die Europafalle, only available in German but a partial translation is available on Martin's website), an inside analysis of European integration, faults of the European bureaucracy and lobbyism in the EU.
European Parliament 1999–2004
In the 1999 European Parliament elections Martin was selected as leader of the Social Democratic Party of Austria's group. However, differences with the party's leadership led to his complete break with the SPÖ.
Since then Martin has been reelected twice through his independent candidate list, Hans-Peter Martin's List.
Early in 2004, he accused MEPs of all parties of falsely claiming reimbursement of travel and subsistence expenses. He produced evidence of MEP's signing the register in the morning to receive their daily allowance, and then immediately leaving the building. Broadcast on German TV, the accusations caused an uproar. The then European Parliament spokesman Hans Gert Pöttering dismissed Martin's accusations as unnecessarily aggressive and the President of the Parliament Pat Cox said that he would have preferred to deal with the case internally.
In response, Martin was accused of claiming too much in meal expenses. He was later cleared of this charge.
Eventually the disclosures and the public outrage Martin's revelations induced resulted in a change of the expense system.
European Parliament 2004–09
In the 2004 European Parliament elections Hans-Peter Martin decided to compete on his own party list "Hans-Peter Martin's List – For genuine control and transparency in Brussels" (Liste Dr. Hans-Peter Martin – Für echte Kontrolle in Brüssel). For an independent he received a surprising 14% of the vote – more than the Greens or the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party – and gained two of Austria's seats in the European Parliament. He was widely credited with having reduced the vote share of the far-right parties.
The second mandate went to Austrian Karin Resetarits, a former journalist with the Austrian public broadcaster ORF and a private radio station. However, Martin and Resetarits soon found themselves in heavy disagreement and ceased to work together. She later joined the Liberal group in the European Parliament on June 7, 2005 and was not reelected.
Martin's list also competed in the Austrian legislative elections of 2006, but received only 2.8% of the vote and thus was blocked from entry into the Austrian parliament by the requirement to at least have 4% of the vote. Martin explained the unexpectedly low result with accusations of "expedient but contrary to the rule" use of the secretarial allowance, which were widely publicised in the Austrian media. The later court ruling stated that Martin used the funds correctly and did not benefit from the money, but as he did not follow some formal requirements he was ordered to repay the funds. Martin argued that this was a political decision.
European Parliament 2009–14
While Libertas finally didn't manage to set up a list at all, Martin successfully competed again with his independent Hans-Peter Martin's List. He even surprised many by increasing his vote share to 18%, giving his list three seats in the European Parliament.
During his mandate Martin vocally campaigned for transparency and against lobbying. Since 2011 he collects and publishes all lobby invitations his office receives and in 2013 published an analysis. In total Martin collected more than 1400 "lobby attempts" during the two-year timespan and published a summary table ordered by category. Among examples of extraordinary lobbying Martin listed were all-inclusive travels to Azerbaijan, China and Switzerland as well as free conference invitations to Cyprus and London. He estimated the value of the two years of lobbying to up to 65,000 Euro
- The European Trap
- German TV program RTL Exklusiv: MEP Hans-Peter Martin exposes an expenses scandal in the European Parliament on YouTube
- "Martin stiffs Irish ´Libertas´", Austrian Times, 5 March 2009
- Hans-Peter Martin's Lobby-Ticker
- Presse Release on H.P. Martin's website: 1427 lobby attempts in only two years
- EUObserver.com, 5/4/2013: MEP registers over 1,000 lobby attempts
- In the spider web of the lobbyists - Table
- Hans-Peter Martin: Examples for extraordinary lobbying
- Economic Times, 5/4/2013: Euro MP wants tighter rules for EU lobbyists
- Official website of Hans Peter Martin, German (also in English - the content is not identical with the German version)
- Hans-Peter Martin's Lobby-Ticker, a list of all the lobby invitations Martin received in the European Parliament
- Liste Dr. Martin — für Demokratie, Kontrolle, Gerechtigkeit
- Hans-Peter Martin's Voting Behaviour at VoteWatch.eu
- Hans-Peter Martin's profile on the website of the European Parliament