Tackling Corruption in Political Party Financing: Lessons from Global Regulatory Practices

41 Pages Posted: 6 May 2014 Last revised: 7 May 2014

See all articles by Chandrashekhar Krishnan

Chandrashekhar Krishnan

Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School

Date Written: May 8, 2014

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Krishnan, Chandrashekhar, Tackling Corruption in Political Party Financing: Lessons from Global Regulatory Practices (May 8, 2014). Edmond J. Safra Working Papers, No. 43. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2433257 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2433257

Chandrashekhar Krishnan (Contact Author)

Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School ( email )

79 John F Kennedy Street, Box 74
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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