Report: Money in Politics is Global Problem

A recent report published by the Money, Politics and Transparency project found that the role of money in politics challenges states worldwide, both rich and poor.

Its abuse often raises problems of graft, corruption and cronyism, undermining legitimacy and governance. Major scandals linked to money in politics are currently rocking ruling parties in countries such as Chile, Malaysia and Brazil, with calls for leading politicians to resign. And there are problems in established democracies as well.

In an effort to address efforts to regulate political finance effectively and to learn from best practices around the world, Money, Politics and Transparency, a project of the Sunlight Foundation, Global Integrity and the Electoral Integrity Project, is releasing a new comparative dataset in more than 50 countries worldwide accompanied by detailed case studies of campaign finance laws and practices in major states such as India, South Africa and Brazil. It also issues a draft Declaration on Political Finance Openness to encourage public debate about how to reform political finance.

“We’re thrilled to help launch the new Money, Politics and Transparency website. We’re hopeful that these tools and data will enhance the good work that’s already being done to document and promote accountability, open government and transparency around the globe,” said Sunlight Foundation President Chris Gates.

The project has three components:

The Campaign Finance Indicators Dataset

The global dataset of Campaign Finance Indicators is a comprehensive, national-level investigative survey of political finance regulation and enforcement in 54 countries across the world. The dataset provides detailed information on the laws regulating campaign finance, and assesses how these regulations are enforced in practice. Each country scorecard was both thoroughly researched and peer reviewed by local political finance experts.

“This unique dataset provides an up-to-date, detailed and systematic assessment of the regulation and enforcement of political finance across 54 diverse countries,” said Global Integrity Executive Director Alan Hudson. “We don’t expect better data to improve the regulation of campaign finance just like that — politics doesn’t work that way — but we do expect that efforts to better understand and regulate campaign finance will be sharpened and informed by the data that has been collected through this project.”

The indicator dataset is available for download, and it can be compared against existing datasets, such as gross domestic product, Freedom House scores, International IDEA data and the World Bank Governance Indicators.

Case study report: Checkbook Elections

The new report, “Checkbook Elections,” provides selected detailed cases to illuminate the policies which diverse states around the world use to regulate political finance, find out what triggers landmark reforms, and establish what works, what fails and why when countries reform regulations.

“Given that the abuse of money in politics is a major challenge in many countries today, it is vital that we understand the most effective policies regulating political finance, and learn lessons from around the world about policies emphasizing transparency, contribution limits and spending caps and public funding,” said Professor Pippa Norris, director of the Electoral Integrity Project at Harvard University and the University of Sydney.

Declaration on Political Finance Openness
The draft Declaration on Political Finance Openness makes suggestions to improve political finance frameworks. This community document is intended to build consensus among the diverse interests of the reform community monitoring political finance, uniting civil society organizations, journalists, academics and even civic hackers behind an affirmative vision for what an open and accountable political finance system should look like. Comments and feedback on the declaration are warmly welcomed.

“Reforming political finance regulations and practices both inside and outside the United States is an ongoing process requiring careful monitoring and evaluation,” said Sunlight Foundation International Policy Analyst Lindsay Ferris. “Public trust in political parties is low and the cynical belief that the relationships between money and elections will inevitably be corrupt is rampant. There is much work to be done, but there’s unlimited potential for progress. A diverse, global community dedicated to this issue is essential to generating change.”

For more information, visit our website and download the executive report at www.moneypoliticstransparency.com.

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