About the Database
We will soon undertake revisions to the Political Finance Database and we want to hear from you.
Tell us what you want to see in the next iteration of the database.
The Political Finance Database is a leading source of comparative information and for those interested in money in politics. The database answers forty three fundamental questions on political finance within four broad categories. The categories in focus are a) bans and limits on private income, b) public funding, c) regulations and d) spending and reporting, oversight and sanctions. In here you can find information on laws and regulations from more than 180 countries. You can search the comprehensive database by country, region or question and even customize, export and save or print the data you find in Microsoft Excel and CSV format.
The information in this database shows the use of different types of regulations in individual countries, but it can also be used to compare the prevalence of various provisions between countries and regions. It is our hope that this database can be used by all who are interested in how the role of money in politics is regulated, be they legislators, regulators, political party officials, civil society activists, journalists or concerned citizens.
Please note that this database deals exclusively with regulations of political finance, not with how such regulations are respected or enforced. As with many areas, the passing of a law does not automatically bring compliance. The world over, scandals concerning money and politics illustrate that laws are breached and loopholes utilized. In other situations, governments may abuse regulations to further their own goals. These facts do not negate the value of collecting the global political finance regulations, it simply means that we cannot assume that these provisions are adhered to or enforced in a manner we might anticipate. Without regulations, there is however nothing to adhere to or enforce; meaning that these provisions present the natural starting point for any study of money in politics.
The importance of political finance
There are many crucial factors for a functioning democracy: political freedom, popular engagement and responsible behaviour by elite groups being only some. One aspect that will always be important is the role that money plays in the political sphere.
The reasons for this are complex. Money is necessary for inclusive democracy and effective governance, allowing candidates and parties to reach out to voters and for the building of long term political platforms organizations. However, it can also lead to politicians listening to their donors rather than their voters and to government contracts awarded not to the company with the best bid but to the one that provided most money during the last election campaign.
Realizing the potentially negative influences of money in politics, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) calls on all countries to take "appropriate legislative and administrative measures... to enhance transparency in the funding of candidatures for elected public office and, where applicable, the funding of political parties" (Art 7.3). To do so, countries around the world have introduced various provisions limiting who and how much can be contributed to political parties and electoral candidates; how such funds can be used; how actors have to report on their finances; and how oversight and enforcement is to be achieved.
Revising the International IDEA database
This database was created in 2003, and has since become the leading source of information on political finance regulation worldwide. A revised and updated version, with extended coverage to other areas, was released in 2012.