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

The theme for the 18th edition of the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) is announced

Building on the priorities set out in the Panama Declaration, the 18th IACC in Denmark from 22 to 24 October 2018 will move the pledge of acting together now to concrete action.

A new home for our corruption research

Transparency International is excited to announce the launch of the Knowledge Hub, a dedicated online space for our research.

Pardon me? Presidential clemency and impunity for grand corruption

Recent events in Brazil and Peru have shone a spotlight on the issue of presidential pardons in cases of grand corruption. Read more to find out the best practices that legislators can use to ensure that pardons are not abused for political purposes.

Stopping Dirty Money: the Global Effective-O-Meter

As of December 2017, global effectiveness at stopping money laundering stands at 32% effectiveness.

Corruption in the USA: The difference a year makes

A new survey by Transparency International shows that the US government has a long way to go to win back citizens’ trust.

Anti-Corruption Day 2017: Empowering citizens’ fight against corruption

The 9 December, is Anti-corruption Day. A key part of Transparency International’s work is to help people hold their governments to account. Have a look at what we've been doing around the world!

Digital Award for Transparency: Honouring digital initiatives to fight corruption

The Digital Award for Transparency awards individuals and civil society organisations who have developed digital technology tools used to fight corruption. The award aims at strengthening and promoting existing initiatives that promote good governance through three categories: Open Data, Citizen Engagement and Anti-Corruption Tools.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media

Would you like to know more?

Sign up to stay informed about corruption news and our work around the world