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Bringing the Receipts: Political Finance Transparency in the Western Balkans and Türkiye

Political parties and candidates require funding to adequately exercise their ordinary functions or to campaign for elections. However, donations made by individuals and corporations to political parties and candidates can come with corruption risks.

Political finance scandals are not unusual in the Western Balkans and Türkiye. Over the last decade, the media have reported cases including €4.9 million of illicit donations accepted by a former ruling party in North Macedonia; allegations of foreign funding in Albania, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and false donations aimed at hiding funding sources in Serbia, to name a few examples.

Weak political finance controls result in dirty money entering politics and initiating a vicious cycle of corruption and dependency. Overhauling those controls is therefore critical for the fight against corruption and to strengthen democracy.

This study analyses political finance regimes in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Türkiye. It identifies regulatory and enforcement gaps, and offers recommendations on:

1) Strengthening legal foundations, including definitions of who can donate, how much they can give and in what form.

2) Enhancing transparency in terms of what is reported and published, and in which format.

3) Promoting accountability through well-resourced and independent oversight institutions, and credible sanctions for those who break the law or abuse the system.