Global Trends in The Regulation of Political Finance

Publication Date: 
14 Feb 2011

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This paper deals with the role of money in politics, and in particular with certain efforts by countries around the world to regulate this role. In the current world (and probably since we first started organising ourselves politically), money in politics or political finance as we commonly know it is a central aspect of any political system, whether democratic or undemocratic, “developed” or “developing” and regardless of political culture or tradition. 

Different ways have been sought to oversee and regulate political finance, and the purpose of this paper is to review recent and current trends in political finance regulation. There are many different tools, such as disclosure requirements, bans and limits on spending and contributions, limiting the campaigning period and the provision of public funds to contestants. There are by now so many different solutions to controlling political finance that to describe them all is beyond the reach of even the most ambitious research endeavour. This paper is limited to two areas, namely disclosure requirements and the provision of direct public funding, and focus is given to political parties rather than candidates for public election.

The purpose is to study trends in these areas worldwide, to seek patterns that have been occurring. A particular example of a new field within political finance regulation will also be discussed; one that can be described as using a traditional approach in political finance to address an issue normally outside the purview of that field, or put differently as using a political finance tool as an innovative approach in addition to others already used in another area. I am referring to the increasing number of countries using the provision of public funding as a tool for encouraging political parties to increase gender equality among their candidates in elections.

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