Lack of public trust in political parties undermining democracy in the Balkans

Croatia slightly outperforms neighbours but problems found across the region

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat



Berlin, 25 June 2013 – Croatia should make political party financing more transparent to strengthen its democracy as it prepares to join the European Union (EU), according to a report released today by Transparency International. The report also called on Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia (FYR) and Serbia to make progress in this critical area.

The report ‘Buying Influence: Money and Elections in the Balkans’ warns that a lack of public trust in political parties is threatening the democratic process across the Balkans. Citizens in Croatia, Macedonia (FYR) and Serbia already view political parties as the most corrupt of twelve public institutions assessed, according to the anti-corruption organisation’s Global Corruption Barometer for 2013, set to be published this summer.

“A strong democracy and fair elections depend on open books on political financing. Without clean politics there can be no clean government. Croatia slightly outperforms its neighbours on campaign transparency, but it and its neighbours still have a long way to go,” said Miklos Marschall, Deputy Managing Director of Transparency International.  

 “Our research in the past has shown that joining the EU must not be an excuse for governments to slow down their anti-corruption efforts – in fact, this is when the work should really start, especially in political party financing,” said Marschall.

Croatia will become the 28th member state of the European Union on 1 July 2013. A 2012 Transparency International report warned that financing of political parties is a problem across the EU.

Today’s report assessed transparency in election campaign financing in 2011- 2012 in Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia (FYR) and Serbia, and non-electoral political party financing in Albania in 2012. It found significant gaps in both election campaign financing laws and the way they are implemented. The three weakest dimensions were the reliability of parties’ financial reporting, sanctions for those who break the law, and measures that prevent the abuse of election campaign financing.

In Kosovo, Macedonia (FYR) and Serbia the reliability of political parties’ financial reporting was the weakest of all the areas assessed and in Croatia it was the second weakest. According to the report, independent experts in Croatia estimate that official reports on campaign financing only cover up to 50 to 60 per cent of the actual revenue in campaign budgets and in Serbia, the ultimate source of funding for almost half of reported expenditure during the May 2012 election is unknown.

By law all of the state oversight agencies assessed have relatively far reaching powers, but in practice these agencies cannot hold political parties to account effectively because of a lack of resources (Croatia, Serbia) or a lack of independence from parties (Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia (FYR)). These issues must be addressed so that agencies can compel parties to submit reliable and timely financial reports as well as scrutinize financial reports and sanction parties who do not comply with the law.

Sanctions for flouting laws are also weak across the board. No political party in Serbia or Macedonia (FYR) has ever been sanctioned for violating rules on political campaign financing.

Additional recommendations in the report include:

“A lack of reliable and accurate financial reporting from political parties leaves the door open to corruption and abuse of the democratic system by wealthy donors including big business,” said Anne Koch, Transparency International’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. “Without transparency on donations, it is impossible for citizens to know in whose interest political parties are acting. Democratic life in the Balkans will not thrive unless these problems are addressed and voters can have confidence in their representatives,” said Koch.

# # #

Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.

Note to editors:

Buying Influence: Money and Elections in the Balkans is based on a methodological tool known as ‘Crinis’ developed by Transparency International in partnership with the Carter Center. The methodology involves examining the regulatory framework on transparency of political financing and how it is implemented. ‘Crinis’ has been implemented 20 times in four continents.


For any press enquiries please contact

Chris Sanders
+49 30 34 38 20 666
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Latest

Support Transparency International

Anti-Corruption Award 2018 - Nominations Open!

Our Anti-Corruption Award recognises the courage and determination of the many individuals and organisations fighting corruption around the world.

Nominate an anti-corruption hero today! 

Comment gagner la lutte contre la corruption en Afrique

Aujourd’hui est la Journée africaine de lutte contre la corruption – une occasion opportunité pour reconnaitre le progrès dans la lutte contre la corruption en Afrique et le travail significatif qui reste encore à accomplir.

How to win the fight against corruption in Africa

African Anti-Corruption Day is an important opportunity to recognise both the progress made in the fight against corruption in Africa and the significant work still left to do.

Increasing accountability and safeguarding billions in climate finance

In December 2015, governments from around the world came together to sign the Paris Agreement, agreeing to tackle climate change and keep global warming under two degrees centigrade. They committed to spend US$100 billion annually by 2020 to help developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and protect themselves against the potentially devastating effects of climate change.

After Gürtel, what next for Spain’s struggle with political corruption?

At the start of June, the Spanish parliament voted to oust Prime Minister Rajoy after his political party was embroiled in the biggest corruption scandal in Spain’s democratic history. At this critical juncture in Spain’s struggle with political corruption, Transparency International urges all parties to join forces against impunity and support anti-corruption efforts in public life.

Risk of impunity increases with outcome of Portuguese-Angolan corruption trial

A verdict last week by the Lisbon Court of Appeals in the trial of former Angolan vice president Manuel Vicente has disappointed hopes for a triumph of legal due process over politics and impunity. It also has worrying implications for the independence of Portugal’s judiciary.

The UK just made it harder for the corrupt to hide their wealth offshore

If counted together, the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies would rank worst in the world for financial secrecy. Fortunately, this could soon change.

The new IMF anti-corruption framework: 3 things we’ll be looking for a year from now

Last Sunday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) unveiled its long-awaited framework for “enhanced” engagement with countries on corruption and governance issues. Here are three aspects we at Transparency International will be looking at closely in coming months as the new policy is rolled out.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media