Campaign and party finance, I Van Biezen

Tags: political parties, democracies, political finance, financing, public funding, state subsidies, state funding, contemporary democracies, party organizations, state support, regulation, International IDEA, Party Finance, regulatory framework, ed, Election Campaigns, industrial democracies, expenditure, public subsidies, restrictions, Peter Burnell, freedom of speech, Campaign Finance, Campaign Financing, presidential candidates, Peter Mair, expenditure limits, Africa, Contribution limits, Funding, David Sebudubudu, Comparative Political Finance, Democracy, West European Politics, Reginald Austin, South African Development Community, public control, modern parties, Botswana, Supreme Court ruled, limits, The state, bribery and corruption, financial scandals, political donations, Supreme Court, democratic process, finance
Content: Campaign and Party Finance Ingrid van Biezen `Trying to take money out of politics', suggested former United States Senator and retired NBA basketball player Bill Bradley, `is like trying to take jumping out of basketball.' Although money should be seen as a normal and necessary element of the democratic process, its relationship with politics is blemished by its frequent association with practices of fraud, bribery and corruption. Whether in old or new democracies, the financing of parties and candidates is perhaps the most obscure of all political activity. The place of money on, and often beyond, the edges of what is legally and morally permissible is fostered by the spate of financial scandals that are afflicting democratic governments today. The pervasiveness of political finance scandals means that this constitutes a very real problem for contemporary democracies, with evidence suggesting that it undermines the legitimacy of Political parties, politicians and potentially the democratic process itself: as parties and politicians are increasingly seen as office seekers driven primarily by their material self-interests, and are regarded by the public as highly susceptible to corruption, they have become the least trusted among democratic institutions and actors (e.g. Dalton and Weldon 2005). As the levels of popular disengagement, disaffection and cynicism are rising and as party leaders are increasingly perceived as incompetent, dishonest and corrupt, the concern for the impact of money on good governance has acquired an increased importance and attention in recent years. As Casas-Zamora (2005: 1) notes, `the growing awareness of the risks posed by corruption to the viability of democratic institutions have moved the funding of political activity to the centre of public debates all over the world'. As a result, a host of international governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations are now independently investigating the funding practices of political parties and election campaigns, and are analyzing the possible ways in which illicit modes of party financing might be curtailed. These include organizations such as the African Union (AU), the South African Development Community (SADC), the Council of Europe (CoE), the Organization of American States (OAS), the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Transparency International (TI), and the World Bank. Indeed, the problems with party finance are affecting both the older advanced industrial democracies and the transitional and consolidating democracies. National governments have also begun to pay more attention to the question how the problems with campaign and party financing can be best addressed. One of the most tangible products of these concerns has been the enactment of a flurry of new political finance regulations. In the UK, for example, the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act adopted in 2000 radically reformed the environment of party and campaign finance by establishing a regulatory framework for party finance at the national level and by creating a new monitoring agency for its enforcement (Grant 2005). In the US, campaign finance was substantially reformed by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also widely known as McCain-Feingold, at the heart of which was the aim to reduce the role of political party `soft money' (Briffault 2006). In Canada, Bill C-24 was passed in 2003, which restricted private contributions by limiting corporate and individual donations while at the same time providing for a much more generous framework of public funding (Young 2004). These are but a few examples of the abundance of recent regulatory changes, which have occurred in both the established and the consolidating democracies. As a result, the need for more comparative frameworks that may help us understand the paths taken by a variety of countries has become ever more pressing (Fisher and Eisenstadt 2004: 623). Although academic scholarship has long had an interest in the question of how parties and campaigns
are financed and regulated, the field of political finance has long been populated predominantly by empirical case studies with little emphasis on efforts to establish cross- national explanations. As Scarrow (2007) has recently reiterated, the study of political finance suffers from a lack of theoretical foundations and comparative scholarship. Overall, therefore, there continues to be relatively little understanding of the various contexts and implications of funding sources, campaign expenditures and regulatory systems (Alexander 2001: 197). This chapter addresses some of the gaps in the contemporary study of campaign and party finance by systematically exploring the variation in existing regulatory frameworks in light of potential explanatory factors. It provides a three-dimensional typology of financing regimes, which focuses on the control of income and expenditures, the transparency of donations and expenditures, and the availability of direct and indirect public funding. It examines several possible structural and institutional explanations for existing patterns of party regulation, including the pervasiveness of corruption, the level of economic development, the newness of democracy, and the type of electoral system. However, few of these factors seem to provide a satisfactory explanation, with the possible exception of the electoral system. In addition, the type of party regulation and party funding also appears to vary to some extent among regions. Variation in finance regimes The regulation of political finance can be directed at political parties, candidates, individuals and groups, and focus on income and expenditure controls, transparency or state support in a variety of combinations, such that regulatory frameworks across the globe have taken a myriad of forms. Despite the large variety of financing regimes across the globe, one common development shared by many countries is a tendency towards conceding a greater responsibility to the state in the organization and regulation of political finance. As a consequence of recent finance scandals, or indeed as a general response to the perceived failings of parties and politicians, in many countries the state has now assumed a considerable, and increasingly legitimate, role in regulating parties and candidates, and in overseeing campaign and party financial activities in particular (van Biezen 2008). The regulation of political finance involves several aspects, including the provision of public support to political parties and candidates, the regulation of donations and expenditures, as well as the transparency of the financing process. Table A1, which is based on IDEA's comprehensive handbook of political funding (Austin and Tjernstrцm 2003), summarizes the main characteristics of these financial regulations in 53 of the world's contemporary democracies where information was available.1 The majority of these democracies appear to have established some form of regulatory framework for financing of political parties, candidates and election campaigns, with few significant differences between the older advanced industrial democracies and the more recently established ones. The variation in financing regimes as well as the distribution along three key dimensions is shown in Figure 1, which schematically represents the political financing regimes in democratic regimes across the globe. The first dimension ("regulation") refers to the regulation of donations to, and expenditures by, political parties and candidates, which includes limitations or prohibitions on specific kinds or total amounts of expenditure or sources of income. The 1 Broadly speaking, political finance involves the public and private funding of both political parties and individual candidates, and includes routine operational costs as well as the cost of election campaigns. This chapter focuses primarily financing of political parties, including the rules that govern both their organizational and their electoral activities. For a useful overview of the funding of election campaigns in particular see the UDNP handbook Getting to the Core: A Global Survey on the Cost of Registration and Elections, available at http://www.undp.org/governance/docs/Elections-Pub-Core.pdf. 1
second dimension ("transparency") indicates the presence of rules for reporting, disclosure, monitoring and enforcement, which aim to increase the transparency of the financing process and thereby enhance the accountability of political actors. The third ("subsidization") refers to the availability of various forms of direct and indirect public funding. [Figure 1 about here] To an important extent, the mass party model of funding has become increasingly unsustainable in the established West European democracies, in part due to a rapid decline in membership in over the past two decades (Mair and van Biezen 2001). Because of the relatively lower levels of economic development and the lack of a democratic participatory culture, has always been of limited relevance as a model of party organization in the more recently established democracies elsewhere in the world. The waning of the mass party model of funding leaves various alternative models of political finance (Hopkin 2004). In the absence of bottom-up financing from the grass roots, some parties will give more prominence to the role of private money, while for others the resources of the state acquire more significance. Externally financed elite parties come to rely on private donations from individuals or private business to fund their increasingly capital-intensive campaigns, while the self-financing of wealthy candidates such as Ross Perot, Silvio Berlusconi or Thaksin Shinawatra might equally become an increasingly prevalent phenomenon in modern democracies. Cartel parties, on the other hand, come to depend primarily on the subsidies provided by the state (see Katz and Mair 1995). These alternatives have implied a greater involvement of the state in political finance, either in the form of increased access to direct state subventions or the need for greater public control over private donations to parties and candidates. We might thus expect that the nature of political finance regimes is contingent upon various structural and institutional factors such as the levels of democratization and economic development, the prevalence of political scandals and corruption cases, or the types of party organization and the electoral system. In more recently established democracies, for example, the state may have assumed a greater role in political finance in order to support the relatively weakly institutionalized party organizations. Public regulation of political finance, for instance, may have been enacted as a response to high levels of corruption, aiming to control the amounts of political donations or seeking to improve the openness of the financial transactions of parties and candidates. The relevance of these possible explanatory factors has been examined for our sample of 53 democracies. The first observation to be made is that they actually explain relatively little of the existing variation in the patterns of finance regulation. Table 1, for example, shows the variation in finance regimes by age of democracy, whereby all countries that democratized after 1974 have been considered as new democracies. As can be seen from this table, the newer democracies show a slightly higher, but statistically insignificant, propensity to regulate income and expenditures, but there is no correlation between the availability of (in)direct state subsidies to political parties or transparency rules and the newness of democracy. In the same vein, there appears to be little to no relationship between the type of finance regime and the level of economic development, except that the level of subsidization is moderately higher in high income economies (table not shown). [Table 1 about here] The prevalence of political corruption and the seemingly increasing frequency of finance scandals are often assumed to have contributed to the enactment of political finance legislation. Table 2, however, using the Kaufmann-Kraay (World Bank) index of corruption, 2
reveals that the level of corruption has only a limited potential as an explanation for the nature of the political finance regime. Although there appears to be a positive correlation, albeit statistically insignificant, between the levels of corruption and the existence of income and expenditure limits, there is no clear relationship between the existence of disclosure rules or the availability of public funding and the level of corruption. This suggests that countries with higher levels of corruption may be more likely to establish legal norms to control political donations and expenditures, but are not necessarily more inclined to introduce transparency legislation or to concede a greater role to the state in the funding of political actors. [Table 2 about here] Instead of structural conditions such as the levels of economic development, democratization, or corruption, one institutional factor that appears to be important for explaining the patterns of political finance is the electoral system (see Table 3): there is a strong and positive correlation (R = .455**) between systems of proportional representation and the use of direct or indirect state funding. More than three-quarters of the countries with PR use both direct and indirect funding, against only about one-third of the majoritarian systems, with the mixed systems falling somewhere in between. The pattern is similar when direct and indirect funding are considered separately. A possible explanation for this finding is that it is related to the nature of the party system and the number of competing parties. Highly fragmented systems, with more and smaller parties, might be more inclined to introduce public subsidies with a view to the fairness of political competition. Alternatively, following the lines of the cartel party thesis, established parties in a highly competitive electoral context may use public subsidies to better protect themselves against outsider challengers. Which of these two interpretations holds true depends in large part on the allocation mechanisms of state support and its distribution between small and large parties. It is also possible, however, that the observed relationship is simply a spurious one, due to the fact that the IDEA database only includes only public subsidies to political parties but not to individual candidates, which are likely to be more prevalent in candidate-oriented systems. [Table 3 about here] Finally, there seems to be a certain amount of regional variation between finance regimes. Table 4 shows, for example, that income and expenditure controls are relatively infrequent in Africa and South America, while they are more prominent in Central and Eastern Europe. Similarly, disclosure rules are prevalent in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in Western Europe and North America, but less so in Africa and South America. The established democracies in Western European, the newer democracies in Central and Eastern Europe as well as South American democracies show a somewhat higher incidence of state support for political parties than is the case in Africa. In the following sections, the variation in financing regimes is discussed in more detail, focusing on both the existing patterns across the globe and the underlying principles of regulation, transparency and public support. [Table 4 about here] Controlling contributions and expenditures 3
While contribution limits aim to prevent that elections will be perverted by quid pro quo exchanges, expenditure limits are essentially aimed at preventing candidates and parties from buying elections. Expenditure limits, which are somewhat less common than contribution limits, can either restrict the total amount a party or candidate may spend, or limit the amount spent in particular ways and on particular activities, including the possibility that some forms of spending may be banned altogether (Katz 1996: 125). These limits may consist of an absolute sum per candidate or party (such as in the UK), a certain amount relative to a statutory yardstick such as the minimum wage (such as in Portugal), or a maximum sum depending on the number of inhabitants in the constituency (such as in Spain). Expenditure limits exist in just over one-third of the democratic polities in our sample. They are particularly rare in Latin America, where they only exist in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, and in Africa, where they are in place only in Benin and Mauritius. One of the main reasons why expenditure limits are seen as controversial is that they necessarily impose restrictions on the freedom of speech, or on the freedom to disseminate speech. The desire to curtail moneyed interests in elections thus implies a fine balancing act with other key democratic principles. The United States is known for having privileged the freedom of speech and represents a particularly permissive tradition with regard to campaign expenditure, as spending by candidates is not limited (exception of presidential candidates who voluntarily accept spending limits in exchange for public subsidies). In fact, the US Supreme Court ruled in 1976 in Buckley v. Valeo that expenditure ceilings impose direct and substantial restraints on the quantity of political speech (Katz 1996: 124), thus deeming expenditure limits unconstitutional and in violation of the First Amendment. European democracies have tended to adopt a different approach to party and campaign finance, moving instead towards much more restrictive regulations. The European approach has been to justify restrictions on campaign expenditures as a means to control the potentially disruptive role of money in politics. Restrictions to campaign expenditure are accepted on the grounds that unrestricted spending gives an unfair advantage to interests with privileged access to financial resources, and might make elected officials dependent on their economic contributors at the expense of the general interest and the population at large (Alexander and Shiratori 1994). Similarly, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled in 2004 in Harper vs. Canada that spending limits are justified with a view to preventing the most affluent citizens from monopolizing the electoral discourse (Feasby 2006). In contrast with the `libertarian' paradigm that prevails in the US, therefore, Canada can be seen to represent a rather more `egalitarian' approach to political finance (Griner & Zovatto 2005) Contribution limits are more common than expenditure limits. They are often motivated by a desire to prevent that economic inequality translates directly into political inequality. If no contribution limits are in place, financial disparities between parties might become exacerbated. A second concern with private donations is that financial exchange relationships between parties and candidates and private individuals or groups open up the potential for a conflict of interest. As private contributions may tempt the recipient to privilege the interests of its donors over those of the general public, there is a danger that certain private interests rather than the general public interest will guide the conduct of parties and elected officials. Private donations can thus generate suspicions of vote buying and trading influence. Although some scholars have argued that such fears are often exaggerated (e.g. Lцsche 1993), others argue that the extent to which those in Public Office exploit their decision-making capacity to the benefit of private contributors should not be underestimated. The problems of vote buying appear to be particularly profound in many of the transitional and consolidating democracies, where the political process more broadly tends to be dominated by particularistic exchanges. Even in the US, where the Supreme Court ruled that expenditure limits place severe restrictions on constitutionally protected expression, it did not 4
rule out contribution limits, which it deemed justified in the interest of preventing corruption or the appearance thereof. Contribution limits may apply to parties or candidates, or both. They are especially common in the younger democracies in Southern and Eastern Europe, but they are relatively rare in Latin America and Africa. Such provisions may involve restrictions on the acceptable amounts of contributions, either in the form of a maximum on the amount of money that can be accepted from a particular source (whereby different ceilings may apply to different types of donors) or a limit on the total sum of acceptable private contributions. They may also involve restrictions prohibitions of certain types of donors and donations, such as anonymous donations or public and semi-public organizations, the latter with a view to avoiding a concealed form of state funding. Restrictions commonly apply to corporate donations. Although private business remains an important source of finance, some countries have moved towards more stringent legislative frameworks on corporate donations in an attempt to limit the influence of plutocratic financing on democratic politics. Some countries, such as Belgium, France, Israel, Mexico or Poland, have imposed a complete ban on donations from corporate entities. In others, such as Brazil and Japan, a partial ban on corporate donations exists. Many of such decisions were taken as a response to the eruption of corruption cases. Japan, for example, tightened the rules on political donations in the 1970s and again in 2000, in the wake of a series of financial scandals. Similarly, illicit financial deals and corruption scandals in France in the 1990s encouraged the enactment of new legislation, which made it illegal for private business to donate money to political parties and candidates. As a consequence, political activity is now financed ­ at least formally ­ primarily from public funds. Some countries prohibit or restrict contributions from trade unions. In Europe, the links between the economic and political branches of the labor movement have traditionally been very strong, whereby trade union funding has often been essential for labor parties to compete with the much larger funds available to middle-class parties from corporations and wealthy individuals. However, the channeling of political donations through interest associations may generate suspicions of undue political influence, especially if an exchange relationship appears to exist between the contributions and certain public policy decisions. Moreover, donations from interest associations do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire membership. This is the reason why trade union contributions are prohibited in North America, where unions have been banned from making political contributions in Canada since 1920 and in the United States since 1943. Another, and less extreme, solution is provided by Britain and Denmark, where trade unions are allowed to contribute to parties and campaigns provided that any member must be offered the possibility to opt out of the scheme (e.g. Ewing 2002). Parties may furthermore be banned from accepting money from foreign entities, governments or individuals, usually with a view to safeguard a country's domestic autonomy and sovereignty, or, more pragmatically, with reference to the difficulty of ensuring the accountability of the donor. Foreign donations, however, do not always have subversive intentions and may in fact be a welcome contribution to efforts of democracy promotion and assistance. The role of the German parties and their associated research institutes in the democratization processes in Southern and Eastern Europe, for example, is relatively well- known and documented (e.g. Mair 2000). More generally, financial support to political parties has acquired an increasingly important and legitimate role in the overall domain of international democracy assistance, alongside the promotion of free and fair elections, the development of a vibrant civil society, and effective rule of law (e.g. Burnell 2005). For Southern Africa, Southall (2006) has argued that party aid is in fact of critical importance for 5
transitional societies, in particular because it supports the existence of a viable opposition in a context of patronage-dominated politics. Transparency and enforcement Just as contribution and expenditure controls seek to prevent that the role of money perverts the democratic process, transparency requirements seek to enhance political accountability by providing insight in the actual levels of income and expenditure. Indeed, although factor analysis confirms that both types of regulation co-vary, they are underpinned by very different logics. This is most clearly illustrated by the United States, which can be seen to represent a financing paradigm which pivots more on full transparency in order to limit the potential contamination of the democratic process by private money than on income and expenditure control; hence its particular location in Figure 1. The threshold of disclosure in the US is set at a relatively low limit, the law requires full details of the donor to be made public, and candidates are subject to strict reporting rules. Transparency is increasingly seen as a key safeguard against the illegitimacy of political finance. Moreover, because secrecy about private contributions is feared to breed suspicion and thus to undermine democratic legitimacy, transparency is often advanced as a necessary condition for Public confidence and trust in the democratic system. To this effect, political finance regimes have resorted to increasingly strict requirements for disclosure of their financial accounts and their monitoring by a specially designated body. In addition, an effective system of enforcement demands that these requirements are embedded in a context of legal sanctions which impose penalties on violations of the law. As Casas-Zamora (2005: 23) observes, `a copious comparative experience suggests that a demanding set of requisites must be met if political finance disclosure is to be enforced.' But, he continues `the presence of such requisites is by no means guaranteed.' A lack of effective enforcement or an absence of meaningful sanctions implies that, no matter how detailed the regulations on income and expenditure or how strict the requirements for disclosure and transparency, the absence of authoritative enforcement agencies or the weakness of the rule of law may make parts of the system effectively inoperative. While transparency rules are a critical component of political finance regulations in many countries, they are also associated with several practical and normative dilemmas. First of all, political parties, candidates and enforcement agencies incur considerable costs in providing, auditing, and processing the necessary information (Nassmacher 2003: 143). Secondly, it is not certain to what extent transparency can reduce corrupt practices, which can be illustrated by the persistence of political finance scandals across the globe in spite of increasingly strict requirements for disclosure. Besides, full publicity appears to have a limited capacity to diminish the influential role of private money more generally. As West (2000) has recently argued for the United States, politics is increasingly dominated by more or less transparent financial exchanges between private donors and elected politicians, to the point that the system can be best described as a `checkbook democracy' in which policies can effectively be bought and sold. Finally, and perhaps paradoxically, transparency may actually have an adverse effect on democratic legitimacy, as the availability of more information might effectively breed more suspicion. Openness may thus enhance rather than diminish the levels of perceived corruption, and thus further contribute to the erosion of public confidence in parties and politicians, regardless of whether these suspicions are well grounded (Fisher & Eisenstadt 2004). It remains an open question whether these scandalizing effects outweigh the positive benefits of regulation (Scarrow 2007: 201). From a normative perspective, moreover, a trade off exists between transparency and privacy. Disclosure requirements reflect the notion that `the collective benefits of disclosing 6
sources of financial support of political actors outweigh the donors' right to privacy' (Casas- Zamora 2005: 23). Disclosure of political donations makes it easier to detect (and thus perhaps to avoid) political corruption because it may expose the connection between large donations and certain government decisions to the public and the media. To the extent that disclosure enhances transparency, it may therefore prevent or limit improper financing. More generally, voters may claim to have a right to know who the financial supporters are of the different political parties and candidates running for office, as this could influence their electoral choice. On the other hand, however, donors may have a legitimate desire to preserve the privacy of their political preferences. Disclosure requirements may constitute an unjustified infringement on both individual privacy and the autonomy of political parties as private associations. In some of the consolidated democracies, such as Sweden and Switzerland, for example, the notion of political parties as voluntary associations of civil society and a concern with their internal autonomy lies beneath the absence of statutory control of party financing (Nassmacher 2003: 141). Private donations to political parties can be seen are a form of political participation and an expression of political support tantamount to the act of voting. Just as a democracy would safeguard the secrecy of the ballot, donors should not be required to declare their political allegiances. This argument may carry additional relevance for public officials, such as judges, civil servants, members of the armed forces, and so on, who are expected to maintain a stance of political neutrality, or to representatives of business organizations who fear that they might be discriminated against when government contracts are awarded if they are known to have supported a particular political party or candidate. In transitional and newly consolidating democracies, moreover, disclosure rules may inhibit contributions to opposition parties and candidates, in particular in countries with a dominant ruling party, thus creating a strong bias in the system in favor of the incumbent party. Consider the case of South Africa, for example, where over the past few years a number of financing scandals have drawn the attention of the media and the broader public. South Africa has a limited level of regulation of non-state party funding, which has encouraged civil society organizations to advocate a greater need for transparency. For this reason, the Institute for Democracy and South Africa (IDASA) embarked upon court action in 2004, filing petitions against the main political parties requesting access to their funding records. However, Sarakinsky (2007) has argued that, although secret donations appear at odds with the values of democratic governance and accountability, there has been no empirical evidence which supports the allegation of a connection between the secrecy of funding and the presence of corruption. In addition to the question whether a causal link exists between the lack of disclosure and the existence of corruption, Sarakinsky contends that the disclosure of the donor's identity prejudices smaller opposition parties and thus skews the competitive playing field. The argument about the fairness of political competition has a broader relevance for countries with predominant party systems, a weakly institutionalized opposition and a general lack of alternation in power (cf. Saffu 2003). Here, the anonymity of political donations may help opposition parties raise funds by protecting the identity of their donors. In general, however, the notion that full publicity has the potential to play a powerful cleansing role in politics continues to be the reigning paradigm.2 Disclosure requirements nearly always exist if parties or candidates are entitled to direct funding from the state. In fact, many of the rules were first introduced or were substantially extended in the wake of the introduction of public funding for parties, as the provision of state subventions inevitably demanded a more codified system of party 2 See Ackerman and Ayres (2002) for a compelling but unconventional argument that a system of decentralization and anonymity ­ whereby the recipients are fully unaware of the identity of their contributors ­ is a much better solution for the problems with political finance than regulation and control, full information or bureaucratic subsidies. 7
registration and control. Conversely, in many countries where parties are not entitled to direct state subsidies, disclosure regulations are weak or absent (e.g. Botswana, Jamaica, Lesotho, Senegal, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago). In these systems, the involvement of the state in the financing and management of political parties and election campaigns is thus relatively limited. In political practice, however, this particular model increasingly constitutes an exception to the norm, as the state has assumed an increased importance both in terms of the subsidization of political parties and the regulation of their activities (see also van Biezen & Kopeckэ 2007). Even the established liberal democracies of Western Europe, where a historical conception of political parties as private associations has long prevailed and respect for the internal autonomy of parties has traditionally outweighed the case for public control, have moved towards progressively more regulation, and indeed more direct public subsidies. The UK, where the financing of parties had previously been largely unregulated and unmonitored, codified new party finance regulations in the 2000 Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act. In the same vein, the Netherlands adopted The Law on State Subvention to Political Parties in 1999, which not only transformed existing practices into a statutory law but also gave a legal basis to the provision of direct public subsidies (Gidlund and Koole 2001). We will turn to the issue of public funding in the next section. Public Funding The third key dimension of underlying the finance regimes in our typology is the availability of state subsidies for political parties, candidates and election campaigns. This has become increasingly important in recent years, although the practice of direct state funding goes as far back as its introduction in Uruguay as early as 1928. The phenomenon gained momentum in the 1950s in Latin America, with Costa Rica adopting state subsidies in 1954, and Argentina 1955, both preceding West Germany, the first European country to introduce public subsidies for party organizations in 1959 (Posada-Carbу 2008). In many of the recently established democracies in southern Europe and post-communist Eastern Europe, state support for parties was often introduced on a relatively wide scale during or immediately after the transition to democracy (van Biezen 2003). Public subsidies have now become such a widespread phenomenon across the globe, in both the consolidated and the recently created democracies, that political parties in nearly three-quarters of the modern liberal democracies have access to direct public funding (see Table A1). One important motivation for the introduction of public subsidies concerns the rising cost of politics. As modern politics has become increasingly professionalized and cost- intensive, while the reservoirs of volunteers appear to have become depleted, the state in many democracies has intervened by providing direct financial support to parties and candidates in order to support the continuation of party democracy. According to Katz and Mair (1995: 15), the growth in state subvention `has come to represent one of the most significant changes to the environment in which parties act'. This environmental change is of course not exogenous to the parties, as parties are ultimately the actors `responsible for both the rules regarding state subventions as well as for the amounts of money and resources that are made available.' The increasing relevance of state subventions as a principal resource for modern parties underlines the progressively strong interdependence between parties and the state and the consequent emergence of the cartel party, with colluding parties having become agents of the state and depending on public resources, such as subsidies and state-regulated media access, for their own survival. Because party activity is carried out in a variety of arenas, including parliamentary work, election campaigning and routine operational activities, states may provide support for some or all of these types of activity. Direct state funding consequently tends to rest on three 8
pillars: subsidies for the routine operational cost of parties, subsidies for campaigning activity and subsidies to parliamentary party groups. In addition to direct subventions to support operational activities, electoral campaigns and parliamentary group work, parties may also receive various forms of in-kind subsidies and indirect funding, such as free radio and television broadcasting, reduced postal rates, or various types of tax exemptions (see Table A2). The funding regime is closely related to institutional structures such as the type of government and the electoral system. In the presidential systems in North and Latin America, financing electoral campaigns is more customary than subsidizing party organizations (Casas- Zamora 2005: 33). In the parliamentary regimes in Europe, on the other hand, public funding tends to be oriented primarily towards political parties. However, in countries with more candidate-oriented electoral systems, such as Hungary, where a proportion of the parliamentary representatives are elected in single-member constituencies, public reimbursement of election expenses is also available for individual candidates. As Zovatto (2003) argues for the Latin American context, presidential systems of government also have a direct impact on the personalization of politics, as it encourages donors to channel their contributions directly to the candidates for executive office. This tends to undermine the institutionalization of party organizations, a tendency which is further reinforced by a cultural tradition of personalism and caudillismo. The increased availability of public subsidies can be interpreted as an indication of the increasing financial dependence of parties on the state, although comprehensive cross- national data to establish precisely how dependent parties are on state subsidies are not available. Existing studies suggest that significant differences exist between countries, or between parties within a single country. In a comparative analysis of several European democracies, Pierre et al. (2000) found that state support ranged from just over one-fifth (Denmark) to almost eighty-five per cent (Finland) of total party income. Many parties in the Southern European democracies of Spain and Portugal are virtually entirely dependent on the state for their income (van Biezen 2003). In some Central and Eastern European countries, such as the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, and Estonia, the relative importance of state money is similarly large while in others, such as Bulgaria or Ukraine, public funding is merely symbolic in comparison to the resources parties obtain from private and corporate donations (Kopeckэ 2006). Among the established democracies, parties in Germany, France and Israel benefit from significant amounts of subsidies, while the UK, on the other hand, provides only token amounts of public support (Pinto-Duschinsky 2002). At the very least, the introduction of state support for parties appears to have encouraged a dependence on public money that is critical for a lot of parties and non-trivial for many others (Katz 2002). The one continent to stand in sharp contrast to this trend is Africa, which is the only region where state funding for parties is available in but a minority of democratic states (i.e. Benin, Mali, Namibia and South Africa). What is more, the absence of direct state subventions in Africa is often accompanied by a relative lack of control on party income and expenditures, such as in Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, and Senegal. With the exception of Ghana, this tends to be coupled with limited or no transparency of party financing. The state thus plays a limited role in the regulation and financing of political parties, suggesting that the particular type of party-state linkage which is prevalent in Africa is an informal one, whereby the benefits that parties amass from the state are almost solely derived from the informal practices of patronage, clientelism, corruption (e.g. Kopeckэ and Mair 2003; van de Walle 2003). As a consequence, as rent-seeking is the key route for parties and politicians to obtain benefits from the state, public resources are distributed highly unevenly among political actors, and incumbents enjoy huge material advantages over the opposition. In many African countries, this form of party-state linkage provides the underpinning of predominant party systems in which there is little or no turnover of executive Power. 9
In one of the oldest democracies on the African continent, Botswana, for example, the Botswana Democratic Party has prevailed in every election since independence in 1966. Opposition parties are small and fragmented and wield little influence. The persistence of the predominant party system is encouraged by a majoritarian electoral system of first-past-the- post. The incumbent BDP enjoys major advantages by virtue of being in power, which enables the party to take advantage of state resources by monopolizing the government-controlled media rewarding party activists and supporters through political patronage (Molomo and Sebudubudu 2005). The lack of resource capacity presents opposition parties in Botswana with difficulties in finding and resourcing viable candidates for public office, and is one of the main factors responsible for their failure to provide the electorate with a meaningful alternative to the BDP (Selolwane 2002: 68). As the absence of state financing for political parties helps to maintain an imbalance between government and opposition in terms of the available resources, opposition parties and civil society have consistently pushed for the introduction of public funding, arguing that it would go a long way in addressing the uneven competitive playing field (Somolekae 2005: 25-26). The Botswana example, as well as the African experience more generally, underlines a second key argument frequently advanced in favor of public funding: state subsidies may provide an important contribution to democracy by contributing to the equality and fairness of political competition. On this view, the fact that not all parties are equally well-resourced should not necessarily be to the disadvantage of those which cannot successfully tap into the funds of private contributors. This is relevant primarily for smaller parties, newly established parties, parties whose political programme is unlikely to appeal to wealthy or established interests, parties which lack any linkages with affiliated interest organizations, or opposition parties in predominant party systems. Such considerations prevailed also in the early stage of post-communist democratization, where the introduction of state support was motivated by the need to relieve opposition parties from the competitive disadvantages vis-а-vis the financially secure communist parties. State subsidies can thus create a more level playing field by enabling new, small and less prosperous parties to compete on a more equitable basis with the dominant and financially more privileged ones. From this perspective, the interest of the state is to facilitate an effective political market and thus to contribute to the creation of a context which provides for adequate party competition. In this sense, state subsidies serve to correct market failures and to prevent possible monopolistic partisan practices, which in some cases might be the only alternative available in party systems where only the governing party benefits from access to state resources through patronage and corruption (van Biezen & Kopeckэ 2007). As Katz and Mair (1995) have pointed out, however, public funding may also the exact opposite effect and contribute to the cartelization of party systems by perpetuating the status quo and actually making it more difficult for newcomers to challenge the incumbent parties. The extent to which the system of state funding discriminates against small and new parties largely depends on two key factors: the threshold for eligibility, with higher thresholds more likely to contribute to the entrenchment of the larger and existing parties, and the mechanism for allocation, whereby a principle of equality, by which each party or candidate receives an equal sum of money or lump sum, will tend to produce a less skewed distribution of money in favor of the larger parties than a principle of proportionality, which allocates public subsidies in relation to the levels of electoral strength or parliamentary size. The more the method of allocation for public subsidies intensifies the disproportional tendencies inherent in the electoral system, the more it penalizes smaller parties and contributes to the cartellization of the party system, as is the case in Spain for example (Gillespie, 1998: 81-84). For a summary of the interval and basis of allocation for public subsidies in contemporary democracies, see Table A2. 10
In addition to the rising cost of politics or the desire to level the playing field, a third oft-cited argument in favor of public funding is related to attempts to restrict the influence of private money and to counteract the potential for corruption. Japan provides an obvious example in this regard. The fundamental reform of the funding regime which was carried out in 1994, when public subsidies for political parties were first introduced, had little to do with a need for the state to address a shortage of resources, as political parties, and the governing LDP in particular, had strong established links with private business (Ferdinand 1998). Parties and Diet members generated the bulk of their revenues through corporate donations. A series of finance scandals in the early 1990s, however, drove the incumbent LDP to address the issue of the role of money politics, leading to the introduction of public subsidies as well as stricter transparency requirements (Ferdinand 1998: 199; see also Ejima 2006). It appears doubtful, however, that the supply of public funding has eliminated the search of Japanese parties for additional funds from private sources (Blechinger & Nassmacher 2001: 180). The Japanese case illustrates that the underlying rationale for the introduction of public funding is often premised on the assumption that state subsidization relieves parties from the need to satisfy their financial supporters and will therefore have a diminishing effect on the contaminating influence of private money. This argument has gained an increasingly wide acceptance. However, there is little empirical evidence to support the expectation. This absence of an unequivocally positive impact of direct state funding on the prevention of unlawful exchanges between parties and donors is supported by Casas-Zamora's in-depth case study of political finance in Costa Rica and Uruguay: public subsidies `are not necessarily an anti-dote to financial dependence on private sources of funding, and, even less, to unsavoury fundraising practices' (Casas-Zamora 2005: 39). Indeed, systems of public funding often supplement rather than substitute clientelistic and corrupt forms of financing (Zovatto 2003: 99). As the excessive dependence on public funds facilitates access to the resources of the state, it may also make it easier and more tempting for parties to turn to the state for resources other than the official subsidies (Katz & Mair 1995). One of the unintended consequences of the extension of public subsidies, therefore, is that it may encourage the unauthorized use of state resources and actually exacerbate rather than reduce the potential for corruption (cf. Gambetta, 2002). Conclusion This chapter has focused on the various ways in which democratic states regulate the financing of political parties and election campaigns. Concentrating on the regulation of income and expenditures, transparency requirements, and the provision of public funding, it has proposed a typology of financing regimes, suggesting that funding regimes can be modeled along three key dimensions, each of which are underpinned by different logics. It has also proposed various structural and institutional explanations in order to understand the seemingly immeasurable variety of finance regimes in existing democracies. While it appears difficult to identify any regional models, a few regional patterns can be teased out. African countries tend to be relative unregulated, for example. Even where the state has assumed some responsibility for leveling the playing field, there is a virtually complete absence of rules for the use of private donations or the disclosure of sources (Pottie 2003: 5). In contrast, parties in Europe and Latin America are relatively highly subsidized and regulated, with the main purpose of regulatory systems and public funding aimed at combating corruption, controlling the power of big donors and leveling the playing field of electoral politics (Posada-Carbу 2008: 24). An exploration of several potential explanations suggests that institutional factors such as the type of electoral system may account for some of the variation in finance regimes, with PR systems seemingly more likely to use public funding for political parties. The relevance of 11
structural factors such as the levels of democratization, economic development or corruption, however, appears to be minimal. The nature of the finance regime appears to be scarcely correlated with the levels of corruption, suggesting that political finance regulations might not necessarily be a product of a perceived increase in political scandals. The available evidence also indicates that the potential of public regulation or state funding as effective anti- corruption devices is marginal at best. According to some scholars, this near exclusive emphasis on corruption prevention is misguided at any rate, and the political finance agenda should instead concentrate on how to enhance democratic principles such as electoral competition and political equality (Malbin 2008). Indeed, what has remained underemphasized in the scholarly literature thus far is that political finance systems are underpinned by different philosophies, and the extent to which these may account for existing variation between countries. More fundamentally, rather than a simple trade off between different democratic values, such as political equality and freedom of speech, debates over political finance are essentially based on competing conceptions of democracy, and are thus ultimately rooted in fundamental disagreements about the nature of democracy itself (Dawood 2006: 271). Although these different visions of democracy might never be mutually reconcilable, one of the key challenges for both scholars of political finance and policy makers and advisors in charge of improving seemingly malfunctioning financing regimes lies in the elucidation of the implicit normative assumptions on which their perspectives are premised. While much empirical work in the field of political finance still remains to be done, it is only with reference to the underlying theoretical and normative foundations of existing approaches that the impact of finance reforms on the quality of democracy can be meaningfully assessed. 12
Figure 1. Typology of Financing Regimes
Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary
Belgium, Canada, Estonia, Ireland, Japan, Mali, UK
Namibia, Netherlands, Norway
Costa Rica, Romania
Argentina, Benin, France, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Spain high
Domenican Republic, El Salvador, Panama, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Uruguay
Australia, Chile, Ghana, Peru
India, Latvia, New Zealand
Brazil Bulgaria, Ukraine
Finland
Mauritius
SUBSIDIZATION
Austria, Switzerland
Lesotho Botswana, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Senegal low
REGULATION
low US high TRANSPARENCY low high
Note: `Regulation' refers to the degree of control over income and expenditure, ranging from `low' (no ceilings on contributions or expenditures) to `high' (ceilings on both contributions and expenditures). `Transparency' represents disclosure requirements, whereby `low' signals the absence of provisions for disclosure of income or expenditures, and `high' the requirement that both income and expenditures are disclosed. `Subsidization' refers to the availability of state subventions, ranging from `low' (no access direct or indirect subsidies) to `high' (the availability of both direct and indirect subsidies).
13
Table 1: Variation in Finance Regimes by Level of Democratization
Age of Democracy
Old Democracies New Democracies
(before 1974) (after 1974)
Total
Income Expenditure Limits1
/ Low
N
%
Medium N
13 52.0% 9
14 50.0% 4
27 50.9% 13
%
36.0%
14.3%
24.5%
High N
3
10
13
%
12.0%
35.7%
24.5%
Disclosure Rules2
Low
N
%
Medium N
%
High N
%
6 24.0% 5 20.0% 14 56.0%
7 25.0% 4 14.3% 17 70.4%
13 24.5% 9 17.0% 31 58.5%
(In)direct Public Low
N
Funding3
%
Medium N
%
High N
%
3 12.0% 7 28.0% 15 60.0%
3 10.7% 6 21.4% 19 67.9%
6 11.3% 13 24.5% 34 64.2%
1 Income/Expenditure Limits: Is there a ceiling on contributions to political parties and/or on party expenditures? 2 Disclosure Rules: Are there provisions for disclosure of contributions to political parties and/or party expenditures? 3 (In)direct Public Funding: Do political parties receive direct and/or indirect subsidies from the state?
14
Table 2: Variation in Finance Regimes by Levels of Corruption
Corruption
High
Medium
Income / Expenditure Low N
Limits
%
10 45.5%
8 44.4%
Medium N
4
5
%
18.2% 27.8%
High N
8
5
%
36.4% 27.8%
Low 9 69.2% 4 30.8% 0 .0%
Total 27 50.9% 13 24.5% 13 24.5%
Disclosure Rules
Low N % Medium N % High N %
6 27.3% 5 22.7% 11 50.0%
4 22.2% 1 5.6% 13 72.2%
3 23.1% 3 23.1% 7 53.8%
13 24.5% 9 17.0% 31 58.5%
(In)direct Public Funding
Low N % Medium N % High N %
4 18.2% 6 27.3% 12 54.5%
2 11.1% 2 11.1% 14 77.8%
0 .0% 5 38.5% 8 61.5%
6 11.3% 13 24.5% 34 64.2%
15
Table 3: Variation in Finance Regimes by Electoral System
Electoral System
Majoritarian Combined Proportional Total
Income / Expenditure Limits Low N 6
5
16
27
% 50.0%
45.5% 53.3%
50.9%
Medium N 5
2
6
13
% 41.7%
18.2% 20.0%
24.5%
High N 1
4
8
13
% 8.3%
36.4% 26.7%
24.5%
Disclosure Rules
Low N 3 % 25.0% Medium N 1 % 8.3% High N 8 % 66.7%
2 18.2% 1 9.1% 8 72.7%
8 26.7% 7 23.3% 15 50.0%
13 24.5% 9 17.0% 31 58.5%
(In)direct Public Funding
Low N 4 % 33.3% Medium N 4 % 33.3% High N 4 % 33.3%
2 18.2% 2 18.2% 7 63.6%
0 .0% 7 23.3% 23 76.7%
6 11.3% 13 24.5% 34 64.2%
16
Table 4: Variation in Finance Regimes by Region
Region
Africa
Income/Expenditure Low Limits
N
6
%
66.7%
Medium
N
2
%
22.1%
High
N
1
%
11.1%
Total
N
9
%
100.0%
Disclosure Rules Low
N
3
%
33.3%
Medium
N
3
%
33.3%
High
N
3
%
33.3%
Total
N
9
%
100.0%
(In)direct Funding
Public Low
N
3
%
33.3%
Medium
N
2
%
22.2%
High
N
4
%
44.4%
Total
N
9
Asia-Pacific 1 25.0% 3 75.0% 0 .0% 4 100.0% 0 .0% 0 .0% 4 100.0% 4 100.0% 0 .0% 3 75.0% 1 25.0% 4
C&EEurope 3 30.0% 3 30.0% 4 40.0% 10 100.0% 1 10.0% 1 10.0% 8 80.0% 10 100.0% 0 .0% 3 30.0% 7 70.0% 10
Middle East 0 .0% 0 .0% 1 100.0% 1 100.0% 0 .0% 0 .0% 1 100.0% 1 100.0% 0 .0% 0 .0% 1 100.0% 1
North America South America Western Europe Total
1
8
8
27
33.3%
72.7%
53.3%
50.9%
1
1
3
13
33.3%
9.1%
20.0%
24.5%
1
2
4
13
33.3%
18.2.0%
26.7%
24.5%
3
11
15
53
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
0
6
3
13
.0%
54.5%
20.0%
24.5%
0
2
3
9
.0%
18.2%
20.0%
17.0%
3
3
9
31
100.0%
27.3%
60.0%
58.5%
3
11
15
53
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
1
2
0
6
33.3%
18.2%
.0%
11.3%
0
2
3
13
.0%
18.2%
20.0%
24.5%
2
7
12
34
66.7%
63.6%
80.0%
64.2%
3
11
15
53
Table 4: Variation in Finance Regimes by Region
Region
Africa
Income/Expenditure Low Limits
N
6
%
66.7%
Medium
N
2
%
22.1%
High
N
1
%
11.1%
Total
N
9
%
100.0%
Asia-Pacific 1 25.0% 3 75.0% 0 .0% 4 100.0%
C&EEurope 3 30.0% 3 30.0% 4 40.0% 10 100.0%
Middle East 0 .0% 0 .0% 1 100.0% 1 100.0%
North America South America Western Europe Total
1
8
8
27
33.3%
72.7%
53.3%
50.9%
1
1
3
13
33.3%
9.1%
20.0%
24.5%
1
2
4
13
33.3%
18.2.0%
26.7%
24.5%
3
11
15
53
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
1
Table A1. Systems of party finance
Country Africa Benin Botswana Ghana Lesotho Mali Mauritius Namibia Senegal South Africa
Donations Is there a ceiling on contributions to political parties?
Is there a ban on
certain types of
donations
to
political parties?
Are
there
provisions
for
disclosure
of
contributions to
political parties?
Expenditures
Is there a ceiling on
party
election
expenditures?
Are there provisions for disclosure of expenditures by political parties?
Public funding
Do political parties
receive
direct
public funding?
Do political parties receive indirect public funding?
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Asia-Pacific
Australia
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
India
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Japan
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
New Zealand
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
C&EEurope
Bulgaria
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Czech Republic
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Estonia
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Hungary
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Latvia
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
Lithuania
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Poland
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Romania
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
Slovakia
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Ukraine
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Middle East
Israel
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
2
North America
Canada
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Mexico
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
United States
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
No
South America
Argentina
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Brazil
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Chile
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
Costa Rica
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
Dominican Rep.
No
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
El Salvador
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Jamaica
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Panama
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Peru
No
No
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
Trinidad & Tobago
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Uruguay
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Western Europe
Austria
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
No
Belgium
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Denmark
No
No
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Finland
No
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
No
France
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Germany
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Ireland
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Italy
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Netherlands
No
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
Norway
No
No
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
Portugal
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Spain
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Sweden
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
Yes
Switzerland
No
No
No
No
No
No
Yes
United Kingdom
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes:
22 (41.5%)
33 (62.3%)
38 (71.7%)
18 (34.0%)
33 (62.3%)
38 (71.7%)
43 (81.1%)
No:
31 (58.5%)
20 (37.7%)
15 (28.3%)
35 (66.0%)
20 (37.7%)
15 (28.3%)
10 (18.9%)
Note: The main focus of the data in this table is on the financing of political parties, as opposed to individual candidates or parliamentary groups. The countries selected for this table are those
included in the IDEA database which were classified as "Free" by the Freedom House in 2007, with the exception of smaller states with a population under 1,000,000.
Source: Austin and Tjernstrцm (2003)
3
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