Money in Politics
Transparency and Anti-Corruption
Transparency is one of the cornerstones of democracy and is at the heart of the international anti-corruption agenda. This is particularly the case concerning the finances of political parties and candidates. A lack of information on how much money circulates in and around elections, where resources are coming from and how they are spent makes it harder for the electorate to make informed decisions. It also facilitates corruption and erodes citizen trust in political institutions. The availability of (detailed) information about the funding of political parties and candidates allows for proper scrutiny by the media, civil society organizations and the wider public. It also provides incentives for candidates and parties to comply with the rules that are in place and helps ensure that political competition remains fair. Political finance transparency is highlighted by the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) as one of the priority areas to prevent corruption and achieve SDG 16.
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 been a strong advocate of digital solutions as a means of contributing to increased transparency of political finance and has developed several practice-oriented reports in order to support oversight agencies interested in building similar systems in their countries. We also conduct in-depth country case studies in advancing evidence-based global policy debate for better political finance transparency.