Tackling Corruption in Political Party Financing: Lessons from Global Regulatory Practices
41 Pages Posted: 6 May 2014 Last revised: 7 May 2014
Date Written: May 8, 2014
Since the end of the Cold War, while democracy has spread among many countries, the costs of funding political campaigns are also increasing rapidly, leading to growing reliance on funding from private sources. This increasing reliance on private money appears to be associated with greater vulnerability of political systems to corruption. Based on a sample of 50 old and young democracies, the paper explores whether high levels of perceived corruption in politics is associated with an absence of, or weaknesses in, key measures to regulate political party funding. The paper concludes that it is difficult to make any categorical statements about whether the absence of, or weaknesses in, such measures is a good predictor of higher levels of perceived corruption in political party funding systems. Political parties are rated poorly in countries with “light touch” regulatory regimes, but this is also true of countries where regulatory systems are stronger. Imperfections can be found even in countries that tick all the right boxes in terms of regulatory practice. However, it is not unreasonable to conclude that, as a general principle, effective and properly enforced regulations, focused on increasing transparency, capping donations and expenditure and judicious use of public subsidies, are better than no regulations.
Keywords: Corruption, Institutional corruption, Political party/parties, Political party funding, Political party funding system, Political donations, Corporate donations, Political finance regulations, Democracy, Transparency
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