Public funding of political parties and electoral campaigns has evolved with several aims. One is to inject ‘clean money’ to minimise reliance on potentially corrupting private money. Another is to enhance fair competition by redressing inter-party inequality. A third is to provide resource guarantees to enhance party stability. This chapter first considers the variety of mechanisms of public support of parties. It then examines, both empirically and normatively, the problematic concept of ‘full public funding’. In doing so it surveys those jurisdictions which provide the most generous public funding. These include some European jurisdictions where upwards of 90 per cent of party income is from public sources. It also offers a case study of moves in Australia towards full public funding of electioneering. These moves include calls to ban all private donations. Systems in place in Australia either guarantee parties up to 80 per cent of the election expenditure limit, or pay between AUD$5.40 and AUD$8.00 for each elector who votes for that party. In some cases this is also augmented by annual subsidies for ‘administration’ and ‘policy development’. Ultimately, if full funding is limited to electioneering, it will reinforce a concept of parties as electoral brands. It may provide for more equal electoral contests, but not ‘clean’ parties as parties would still fundraise from private sources for their year-round activities. Yet if full funding were somehow extended to the entire sphere of party activities, year round, then parties might be cleaned up, but they will have ‘cleaned up’, secure in the guarantee of sanitised state resources.
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Alix Meyer and Eric Phélippeau
What are the constraints on the political communication of party organizations? And just how much are candidates and parties spending on communication and propaganda? This chapter is an attempt to begin answering these questions. It starts by noting the scarcity of reliable and detailed comparative data on this topic before reviewing the different modes of partisan propaganda and the factors that can explain how parties and candidates can be incentivized to use more modes than others depending on the context. We observe that the behavior of parties and candidates is indeed shaped by the structure of the political system, cultural norms or the dynamics of the party system wherein they operate. To a certain extent, they are also dependent on access to certain technology. Finally, what is the impact of statutory and regulatory constraints on political communication? How does campaign finance regulation more broadly influence the contours of the electoral competition? These are some of the questions that this chapter proposes to address in a final section and conclusion.
Social media played a significant role in electoral campaigns conducted in several countries in the period straddling the first and second decade of the 21st century, notably in the US presidential contests for the elections of 2008 and 2012. However, adequate amounts of research had hitherto not been devoted to the part taken by social media in contemporary campaigns, and much of the research that concentrated on the question tended to be descriptive rather than explanatory. It tended to concentrate on ‘what happened’ rather than on the explanatory and generalizing attempt to establish casual links, generalize on their bases, and apply the outcomes to the understanding of trends in countries other than those which were the subject of the case study and to raise questions and hypotheses concerning the implications for the near future. This chapter examines the strategy that was adapted by the Trump campaign of 2016, its results, and the repercussions on political party funding. It then inquires whether we have witnessed similar phenomenon in ‘party-oriented’ rather than ‘candidate-oriented’ party systems, and to what extent do the questions raised by the US campaign apply to them. For this purpose, similar phenomena are briefly examined in Israel, Britain, and Germany and some questions about the implications for party funding in these different contexts are raised.
Manuela S. Blumenberg, Karl-Heinz Nassmacher and Holger Onken
Political finance regulation in Germany dates back to the 1940s. First, a constitutional rule called for transparency of party funds (1949). Second, a law stipulated details for transparency and public subsidies (1967). Third, an improvement of previous rules established the current regime. No significant changes have been instituted since 1994. Twenty years later the most important problem of German party finance is an aging regulation. The chapter shall emphasize three issues that were foreseen when the Political Parties Act was drafted, redrafted and amended: 1) Why are corporate donations just a minor source of party funding? 2) How do local chapters raise funds for their routine and campaign activities? 3) Is the access to public funding really fair to newcomers? Empirically based answers to these questions lead to surprising insights that may or may not result in further improvements to rules which have shown their metal over two decades.
Edited by Jonathan Mendilow and Eric Phélippeau
In post-Soviet Russia the 2001 Law on Political Parties enacted by Vladimir Putin was a first step toward a greater centralization of party organizations under state control. Thanks to this law and its later modifications, state funding has increased and records on party finance have been published and made available. But there remains a huge gap between official data and the reality of political financing. The majority of electoral and party funds are still made up of undeclared resources, and demanding laws are only selectively enforced. Through in-depth fieldwork at the local level, performed in Siberia in 2008–2010, it is possible to combine and confront various qualitative and quantitative indicators in order to assess the size and the shape of the two parts of the funding iceberg. The study of the submerged part reveals the determining role of private companies and of state structures in party competition in Russia today.
Benjamin A. Dworkin
Sub-national levels of government, especially in a federal system like the United States, often have similar governmental systems as the national level. For example, in the American model, executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government are duplicated in all 50 states, though the exact powers of each is subject to wide variance. In addition, each has regularly scheduled elections for local and state offices. The similarities in political structure have allowed sub-national governments to serve as ‘laboratories’ of democracy. As such, one should expect that they will improve upon national laws, making them more efficient and effective. In the world of campaign finance, these sub-national governments have frequently taken advantage of the opportunity to adjust their own rules. Over the last 44 years, in response to public pressure resulting from campaign finance scandals, elected officials in the state of New Jersey have established new laws and regulations designed to restrict the influence of money in politics. At the same time, New Jersey continues to be perceived to be among the most corrupt states in the nation, and that reputation stems, in part, from its campaign finance regulatory regime. This chapter examines this apparent incongruity. Explanations that emerge include (1) a political culture and tradition that are both accepting of transactional politics and continue to seek reform of such a system, (2) reforms that proved to be porous even though they were designed to limit plutocratic tendencies in the system, and (3) changing federal standards that open up new avenues for influence that cannot be shut down by a sub-national response.
The effects of party expenditure on electoral outcomes can be analysed at a variety of levels, such as national and district. Using the example of Great Britain, where extensive research has been undertaken, this chapter illustrates that while the evidence for national-level expenditure effects is less conclusive, there is clear and consistent evidence that district-level spending delivers electoral payoffs. The chapter goes on to illustrate how national- and district-level spending has become increasingly integrated, such that the stand-alone national campaign no longer exists. Rather, its purpose is principally to support campaigns in the districts. This creates regulatory challenges, but without easy solutions. As a consequence, the chapter suggests that in spite of these challenges, regulatory changes in response to the increasing integration of campaigns may produce worse outcomes than the maintenance of the status quo.
Wouter Wolfs and Jef Smulders
In this chapter, the role and funding of political parties at the level of the European Union are analyzed. These European political parties are functionally very different from their national counterparts. They are to be considered as proto-parties, in the sense that their main task is to create a network of national parties and politicians. The introduction of EU public funding for the Europarties in 2004 was aimed at their further development: the goal was to provide the Europarties with the necessary financial means to evolve into full-fledged party organizations that are able to contribute to the development of the European public debate and political system. Together with these subsidies, the European legislator also introduced regulations on income and expenditure restrictions and on transparency and control. We find that the establishment of this party finance regime at the level of the European Union had an impact on both the EU party system at large and the organization of the individual Europarties, resulting in an evolution from a proto-party system to a fully developed party system.