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March 21, 2023

Over the last decade, many aspects of political finance practices –from raising funds to campaign advertising to reporting and disclosing political parties’ finances– have gone digital. While they have created several opportunities, they have also tested the limits of almost all aspects of regulatory frameworks.

Online campaigning helps political parties and candidates reach out to more voters with comparatively lower costs and allows them to use more targeted messages when compared with other traditional campaign tools. However, digital technologies also pose several challenges for campaign finance. Some of those challenges include but are not limited to lack of access to political finance data, difficulties associated with tracing the source and destination of online expenditures, the speed of digital innovations outdating legislation, a lack of capacity within oversight agencies and regulatory bodies, and weak inter-agency coordination, among others.

While there is a general understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with digital aspects of political finance, there needs to be more detailed and comparative information on how countries try to adapt to and cope with these practices. International IDEA aims to advance a global reform debate on political finance in the digital age by collecting comparative data and strategies worldwide. This project, led by the Money in Politics programme, also contributes to International IDEA´s larger initiative on Digitalization and Democracy. 

Money in Politics in the Digital Age

A project lead by International IDEA to analyse global trends in political finance and online campaigns.


















Collecting data and information on the regulatory environment across countries

Getting to grips with the flow of money in the digital campaign sphere is essential for understanding how the wider influence ecosystem at elections operates. Political parties, candidates and third parties increasingly spend more financial resources on online campaign tools. Also, external suppliers are often paid to consult on election messaging and polling, provide social media tools and devise large-scale online advertising campaigns. Yet, there is still limited financial transparency around online campaigns worldwide.

International IDEA collects data and information on the regulatory environment across countries and examines its robustness vis-à-vis digital campaigning methods. It also documents the experience of oversight agencies in dealing with the challenges associated with such novel modes of campaigning. 




This report outlines some of the challenges 
that policymakers, legislators and oversight 
agencies face when drafting and implementing 
laws to include online expenditures within 
the scope of regulated political finance and 
provides solutions on the steps that they 
can take to close the regulatory gap. 


This Report takes a deep dive investigation 
into the UK 2019 general election and offers a
unique examination of the role of election 
suppliers in the UK. Making a series of 
recommendations, this Report raises pressing 
new questions about the requirements for 
meaningful transparency.
This report studies the intersection between 
digital campaigning in elections, and political
finance and its regulation in the Asia and the
Pacific region, with a focus on five country 
case studies (Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan
and Kyrgyzstan).





Case studies with good practices and lessons learned on digital political finance 

The case study series under the project ´Political Finance in the Digital Age´ collects empirical information about the ways countries adapt to and cope with political finance challenges associated with digitalization. Through the project, members of political finance oversight agencies and civil society organizations, political party officials and legislators can learn about good practices and lessons learned from various countries that can help them devise and implement political reforms to protect the integrity of political processes and institutions against existing and emerging digital risks.




The Latvian case study explores some of
 the factors which have facilitated Latvia's
 relatively well-honed system of general and
 online campaign finance monitoring, including
 a vocal, active, and articulate civil society, 
engaged media, responsive lawmakers, and a 
proactive oversight agency.


The Mexican case highlights the need to develop
 transformative, robust institutional measures
 for overseeing campaign spending on digital
 strategies and that the effectiveness of 
the regulatory framework is highly dependent on
 mechanisms on the ground for monitoring.
The Belgium case study examines how the country
 has adapted its legal framework over the years
 to reflect the realities of modern-day campaigning. 
It also explores several legislative initiatives
 proposed by the members of the Federal 
Parliament that are awaiting adoption.





Introducing a digital system for financial report

Transparency in money in politics can be greatly increased by introducing a digital system where political parties file their financial reports online to the oversight agency, with the data then publicly available in the form of a searchable database on the agency’s website. International IDEA has developed several practice-oriented reports in order to support oversight agencies interested in building similar systems in their countries.  



This Policy Brief discusses the importance
of increasing political finance transparency,
which is at the heart of the international
anti-corruption  agenda. The adoption
of commitments on political finance
transparency as part of the Open
Government Partnership (OGP) is an
important step in that direction.


This guide documents the experiences of 
countries that have political finance online 
reporting and disclosure systems in place. The 
lessons learnt in the process of building the
system will help other oversight agencies 
interested in building similar systems in their 
This report examines the existing
disclosure systems in Europe, highlights 
best practices and identifies the main
challenges for the development and 
implementation of such a system in 
Albania, taking account of the specific 
political and institutional context of
the country.



The State of Digital Disclosure of
Political Finance in Europe

This Technical Paper provides a snapshot
of current practices in 41 countries in Europe
on political finance disclosure, focusing on
the transparency of the annual accounts
of political parties, the transparency of
campaign expenditure and the transparency
of donations.





News and articles

Visit this page regularly to read the news and articles

A recent major media investigation exposed a team of private contractors in Israel who allegedly interfered several elections in other countries by mobilizing disinformation campaigns. The incident has yet again highlighted the sophisticated techniques of election manipulation in the digital age. Read more >

While the United Kingdom is often considered to have one of the most transparent political finance systems, it is still unclear how more than 1 in every GBP 10 was spent at the last UK general election. This is one of many findings from the International IDEA’s latest report, 'Regulating the Business of Election Campaigns: Financial Transparency in the Influence Ecosystem in the United Kingdom', which investigates the companies, suppliers and individuals that political parties spend money on. Read more >

Transparency of politics, particularly political finance, is a cornerstone of every democratic system. The Central Elections Commission (CEC) in Albania has prioritized strengthening the existing oversight, reporting and disclosure of annual accounts and campaign expenditure of political parties in line with the recommendations and observations of the international community. Read more >

International IDEA has just published new case studies on Mexico and Belgium as part of the ´Political Finance in the Digital Age´ initiative. The case study series examines the strategies, norms, and practices in relation to regulating online campaign finance in respective countries. Read more >


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