The Role of Parliament in Curbing Corruption

By Rick Stapenhurst; Niall Johnston et al. | Go to book overview

12
Party Political Funding

Michael Pinto-Duschinsky


Introduction

Money is necessary for the proper functioning of democratic politics. Without the necessary funding, politicians cannot articulate their ideas and visions to the public and, therefore, citizens cannot make informed choices during elections. Unfortunately, political financing is rife with corruption, and scandals related to party financing are ubiquitous. Though numerous efforts have been made to reform laws relating to campaign and party finances, success has been rare. A more focused approach to ensure accountability and transparency in political spending might provide policy makers with better results.

The first part of this chapter seeks to familiarize the reader with the complexity of political financing: it examines the extent and variety of forms that political corruption can take. The second part will illustrate some of the attempts made to regulate party funding and combat political corruption. Ongoing debates, based on sometimes erroneous assumptions of underlying trends, have weighed the merits of different models of party financing. It is important to remember, as is explained in the third part of this chapter, that because of country-specific idiosyncrasies, countries should develop their own rules and regulations regarding political financing. Because there is still no “cure” for corruption in party funding, expectations should be realistic. The chapter concludes by outlining a number of measures that legislators can adopt to minimize corruption related to party financing.


Political Finance and Political Corruption

With barely less regularity than the cycle of seasons, each year produces a fresh series of corruption cases arising from political funding.

A few of the scandals of 2003–4 are summarized in box 12.1. The examples are not a scientific sample, and they will soon themselves become dated. However, they strongly suggest that the financing of political life—especially money raised to pay for election campaigns and political party organizations—is a major form of corruption and of alleged corruption.

Each reported example must be regarded with caution. Rumors and false reports abound. Politics is a brutal game, and it is in the interests of candidates and

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