The financing of political parties in five South East European countries lacks strong transparency measures and sanctions for those who avoid them, according to a report by Transparency International published today.
The report calls on Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia and Serbia to ensure that:
- income and spending of political parties is reported accurately;
- is verified by a reliable system of oversight; and that
- lack of compliance with party financing legislation is sanctioned appropriately.
It calls on oversight agencies to increase their efforts to enforce new and improved party financing legislation.
“Transparent reporting by political parties about their sources of income and expenditures is in the interest of every country building a true democracy”, said Anne Koch, Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia at the Transparency International Secretariat in Berlin. “Political parties will only enjoy the confidence of their voters once they have shown that they work in the public’s interest, not their own advancement.”
Improved legislation has recently been adopted in all countries that were assessed by this research. This creates a great chance for all actors – parties, oversight agencies and everybody involved in public oversight of parties’ finances to break with old habits and provide more transparency in an area that is perceived as murky by the public in those countries.
The new report, ‘Shining a light on money in political party financing: Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia and Serbia 2011’ addresses the current problems identified in legislation and practice around party financing. The underlying research assessed ten dimensions of the issue: internal bookkeeping; parties’ reporting to oversight bodies; comprehensiveness, depth, and reliability of reporting; public access to this information (disclosure); measures of prevention, sanctions and state oversight in place; as well as oversight activities by civil society.
Common problems that exist across the countries include insufficient legal provisions on preventive measures, lack of enforcement of sanctions, lack of capacity and reach of oversight agencies, and lack of willingness of political parties to adequately disclose their political funding.
Key regional findings and recommendations of the report:
Public disclosure of the funding of political parties needs to be further strengthened with clear timeframes and mechanisms of publication in Albania and Kosovo.
Despite progress made in the publication of reports in Croatia, FYR Macedonia and Serbia, oversight agencies in these countries need to foster greater transparency by publishing audited party reports in user-friendly and comparable formats.
There is a need for strengthening provisions for the prevention of the abuse of state resources for political campaigning, and oversight agencies need to take the necessary measures to impose sanctions for violations of those rules regarding reporting and disclosure of political party funds.
Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.
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