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Introducing TI Policy Briefs on political financing: essential tools for practitioners

TI launches its Policy Brief series with two papers explaining TI's position on political party and campaign financing and detailing the enforcement architecture necessary to render political financing regulations effective.

  • Standards on Political Funding and Favours (PDF)
  • Enforcement of Political Finance Regulations (PDF)

With a new series of Policy Briefs, Transparency International outlines and explains our position on key corruption-related issues.The first two briefs of the series focus on corruption in political financing,which is one of TI's global priority areas. Other priorities, and the subjects of future Policy Briefs, are: corruption in public contracting, access to information and compliance with international anti-corruption conventions.

The reason for focusing on corruption in political party and campaign finance is that the deleterious effects of corruption in this sphere are massive and recurrent. Corruption in the funding of politics damages democracy because it undermines elections and distorts political competition. Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer 2004 found that in 36 out of 62 countries polled, political parties were considered to be the most corrupt institution, followed by parliaments. But the damage is not confined to the electoral process. The quality of government is marred if those in power are tied to quid pro quo agreements with their donors, who expect policy favours or privileged access to government.

Faced with evidence that voters do care about the ways in which electoral politics is financed, governments around the world have taken steps to regulate political party and campaign financing. But too often regulations have been adopted in response to scandals. Knee-jerk responses when careful and considered lawmaking is needed, almost always result in loophole-ridden regulations that are impossible to enforce.

Capacity for enforcement therefore has to be considered when regulations are designed. This is why we have chosen to present the position paper on enforcement alongside the paper on the regulations themselves. When entrusted leaders regularly breach laws with impunity, confidence in the political system is undermined.

Transparency International has been working on the issue of corruption in the financing of political parties and campaigns since the late 1990s, when National Chapters in Latin America and later Central and Eastern Europe devised projects to monitor how much money candidates were spending on their election campaigns. Armed with evidence that the real spending was more than the declared sums, they were able to demonstrate a need for greater transparency of electoral politics. Their efforts have successfully fed into reform processes in many countries, notably Argentina and Latvia.

Related documents

TI Standards on Political Corruption:

  • English
    standards_eng.pdf 448.44 kB
  • Spanish
    broschure_standards_spa.pdf 591.17 kB
  • French
    standards_french.pdf 70.96 kB

Expert Meeting on Enforcement, Paris 2004:

  • Conference Report: Enforcement of political party funding regulations - Lessons from Western Europe
    conference_report.pdf 218.32 kB
  • Case Study: Enforcement in France
    france.pdf 100.33 kB
  • Case Study: Enforcement in Germany
    germany.pdf 109.34 kB
  • Case study: Controlling political party funding in Italy
    italy.pdf 167.44 kB
  • Case Study: Enforcement in Portugal
    portugal.pdf 98.06 kB
  • Case Study: Enforcement in the United Kingdom
    united_kingdom.pdf 114.02 kB

Additional reading:

  • Transparency International's Political Corruption Thematic Page contains general information about political corruption as well as details on activities conducted by National Chapters to monitor and raise awareness of political corruption-related problems.
  • TI National Chapter activities: Worldwide, Asia, Latin America.
  • Transparency International's 'Global Corruption Report 2004: with a special focus on political corruption'
  • The Council of Europe's' Guidelines and Report on the Financing of Political Parties' are amongst the most detailed international guidelines on political financing.
  • International IDEA's database on Political Finance Laws and Regulations contains information on the laws on funding of political parties for more than 100 countries in the world.

Expert Meeting on Political Finance Regulations, Athens 2002: 11 case studies of regulatory frameworks

  • Political Corruption and Party Financing in France
    political_corruption_party_financing_france.pdf 165.13 kB
  • Political Corruption and Party Financing in Germany
    political_corruption_party_financing_germany.pdf 176.50 kB
  • Political Corruption and Party Financing in Greece
    political_corruption_party_financing_greece.pdf 136.53 kB
  • Political Corruption and Party Financing in Iceland
    political_corruption_party_financing_iceland.pdf 151.23 kB
  • Political Corruption and Party Financing in Italy
    political_corruption_party_financing_italy.pdf 184.94 kB
  • Political Corruption and Party Financing in Portugal
    political_corruption_party_financing_portugal.pdf 293.34 kB
  • Political Corruption and Party Financing in Slovakia
    political_corruption_party_financing_slovakia.pdf 147.59 kB
  • Political Corruption and Party Financing in Spain
    political_corruption_party_financing_spain.pdf 174.66 kB
  • Political Corruption and Party Financing in Switzerland
    political_corruption_party_financing_switzerland.pdf 131.89 kB
  • Political Corruption and Party Financing in Turkey
    political_corruption_party_financing_turkey.pdf 191.05 kB
  • Political Corruption and Party Financing Western Europe, an overview
    political_corruption_party_financing_western_eu_overview.pdf 140.58 kB

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