[OPE-L] Election funding

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sat Apr 14 2007 - 08:11:58 EDT

Election funding: How does NZ compare with overseas?
5:00AM Saturday April 14, 2007
By Carroll du Chateau

Democracies around the world are wrestling with the problem of election
funding, says Otago University election law expert Andrew Geddis. "Political
parties have to have money to do their job, and in an ideal world they'd
have large party bases to fund them. Unfortunately, mass membership of
political parties is dwindling worldwide, which means that they have become
more and more reliant on small groups of donors who give money and may seek
influence on those parties."

Solutions being suggested here include severely restricting private
donations from both individuals and organisations, insisting on the
disclosure of the identity of all donors - including those giving only small
amounts - the curtailment of third-party campaigning by organisations such
as the Exclusive Brethren, and more state funding.

After serious funding scandals in 1990-2000, Canada brought in extensive
reforms which will come into play during their next federal election,
probably in 2011. The aim is to achieve transparency, equality - and rule
out large contributions and therefore possible influence from pressure
groups or wealthy financial interests.

Says Geddis: "They've set the limit low enough to encourage lots of people
to contribute - and force the parties into grass-roots fundraising."

A similarly radical approach is being debated in Britain. If adopted, the
new system would limit private donations to 50,000 pounds ($134,700), rather
than the limitless freedom they enjoy now, and the Government would provide
funding of 50p each year for every vote obtained in the previous election to
keep the parties afloat.

The question, says Geddis, is whether that method of funding would mean
political parties become just another branch of the state.

full article

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