Skip to main content

Clean Money in Elections

Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP

About this project

Transparency International works to make the financing of politics transparent, fair, and free from corruption, so elected leaders serve everyone’s best interest rather than their campaign donors’. The Clean Money in Elections project supports Transparency International chapters in Indonesia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Panama, Venezuela and Zambia to hold decision-makers accountable for the transparency and fairness of political financing.

With plans to expand to more countries in the future, the project addresses issues that enable undue influence in public policy and hinder equal opportunities for women political candidates. The project also seeks to engage with governments and international fora to promote the adoption of global standards for political finance that uphold equality, transparency, and integrity.

What’s at stake

Opacity of political finance prevents voters from knowing who's funding candidates and who may be seeking to unduly influence their decisions once they are in office. 

Flawed political financing creates integrity risks by encouraging politicians to depend on their own money or support from wealthy sponsors. Barriers to accessing funding and more costly election campaigns make it harder for women to compete in elections, resulting in heavily skewed gender representation in politics.

Opacity in political finance is also dangerous for democracy. When politicians are secretly funded by businesses or wealthy individuals, there is no way to know if the policies and decisions they support are designed to benefit their financial backers rather than the public interest. This ultimately means that the issues that matter to the public are not adequately represented in government. It also often leads to the exclusion of already marginalised communities from the decision-making that matters and affects them.

What we’re doing about it

By supporting and equipping watchdogs to monitor and generate evidence on political financing, we strengthen collaboration with election reform coalitions and ensure the public is informed of political campaign funding sources. As public awareness grows, decision-makers become more sensitive to reform and are more likely to implement adopted laws and systems that can increase transparency.

The Clean Money in Elections project collaborates with coalitions and oversight agencies in each target country. Together, we engage with decision-makers improve policies and practices, grounded in up-to-date international standards. We also target duty bearers, including lawmakers from legislatures and governments, as well as officials from oversight agencies, supporting their work on political finance transparency.

Our approach is based on three pillars:

  1. Generating sustained public demand for transparency in political finance and overcoming financial barriers faced by women politicians
  2. Facilitating political engagement towards reforms for greater transparency, integrity, and equality in political finance regimes
  3. Developing innovative methods for monitoring and implementing solutions across all levels of government and political entities

Main activities:

  • Developing and implementing gender-sensitive technical solutions to help close the technological gaps in target countries. These solutions will make it easier for political parties and candidates to monitor, estimate, report, and disclose financial information.
  • Advocating for the adoption of global standards to enhance the legitimacy of national-level advocacy for transparent political finance and gender equality.
  • Engaging in dialogue with policy-makers and other stakeholders to drive reforms that make political finance systems more transparent, fair, and inclusive for women.
  • Conducting public information campaigns to raise awareness about the relationship between political finance transparency, electoral integrity, and the financial barriers faced by women in politics.