The Sunlight Foundation is partnering with Global Integrity and the Electoral Integrity Project to create Money, Politics and Transparency — a project aimed at improving political finance transparency globally. The project, with generous funding from the Hewlett Foundation and Open Society Foundations, hopes to become the go-to resource for reformers, researchers, journalists, elected officials and others interested following global developments in money and politics.
Across the globe, advocates, regulators and the media face different issues related to money in politics transparency. In some countries, private contributions may influence the outcome of elections, with or without adequate disclosure. Elsewhere, political parties are publicly funded, but there is no accounting to ensure that only public funds are spent and spent within the limits of the law. There may be adequate disclosure rules written into law but no enforcement, or there may be contribution and spending limits but no disclosure. Money, Politics and Transparency will create a vast repository of data about political finance regimes. By fielding “Integrity Indicators” in 50 countries, we will have up to date data to measure the current state of regulations governing money in politics around the world. Before-and-after case studies of major political finance reforms to will also help stakeholders to better understand policies designed to improve disclosure rules, regulate financial caps or implement to public subsidies.
Importantly, Money, Politics and Transparency will foster a network of global stakeholders who will have an online forum in order to share or supplement their own experiences fostering accountability and combating corruption by creating more transparency around political financing.
Our research and our global partners’ expertise will act as the foundation for the co-creation of political finance norms. Building consensus around strong political finance transparency norms will provide advocates, legislators and regulators with a baseline to which they can compare their own countries’ political finance transparency regime and make improvements to it.
Transparency around political financing can contribute to more accountable, less corrupt democracies, but it is not the whole story. Money in politics transparency will lead to a better understanding of how and whether the funding of political activities impacts other government services such as education, healthcare, transportation and resource management. Political finance transparency is also necessary in order to determine whether changes to a country’s current system of candidate, campaign or party financing are required.
Money, Politics and Transparency is not something we can do alone. We encourage everyone doing important work in this area to join us by following @MPTransparency on Twitter and spread the word using the hashtag #globalmoneypolitics so that political finance transparency can become a global reality.