Strengthen political integrity to eradicate …

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One way to integrate public interest guarantees into political decision-making is to ensure that the process of selecting and appointing those in power is not biased in favor of the preferences of a few narrow interest groups.

According to Freedom House data, in 2019 nearly 60% of countries were considered electoral democracies, where elections are the primary means of selecting who comes to power. Free and fair elections are essential to ensure that the democratic process serves as a means of aligning government actions with the elusive concept of the public interest. Free and fair elections also serve to legitimize those in power and build confidence in the system. The fight against vote buying, the abuse of state resources for electoral purposes and illegal campaign donations are essential stepping stones on the road to building political integrity.

Shed light on who donate and how much, can expose the influence of money on politics and deter corruption and other profitable situations. The role of large sums of money in campaign finance can distract future political decisions from the public interest. As the Center for Responsive Politics explains, “a contribution to a campaign may imply that the money will be returned in the form of favorable legislation, less stringent regulations, political appointments, government contracts or government credits. ‘tax – to name a few forms of reimbursement’. Campaign finance reforms are often seen as important to anti-corruption efforts.

Over the past decade, many countries have undertaken reforms that limit election spending and prohibit certain types of contributions such as anonymous or foreign donations. According to VDEM data, for example, of the 180 countries covered by the CPI this year, 112 have rules requiring politicians to disclose the sources of their campaign donations. While this is an important first step, the data also shows that enforcement remains a challenge: 50 of those 112 countries (45%) are not enforcing the rules. The International IDEA political finance database reveals that reports on campaign finance for political parties were only submitted in 12 of the 86 countries surveyed (14%). Even when data is submitted, it often remains difficult for the public to access: only 15 countries had disclosure websites with searchable, machine-readable databases containing campaign finance reports.

Not surprisingly, the lack of enforcement of existing campaign finance regulations is associated with lower CPI scores. Figure 1 shows that, on average, countries where disclosure requirements for political campaigns do not exist, or where they do exist but are not enforced or are not consistently enforced, have an average CPI score of 34 and 35, respectively . This number is 20 points lower than the group where the regulatory framework for campaign finance is not as comprehensive as it could be, but where existing requirements are properly enforced.

The group of countries where the campaign donation disclosure regime is complete and successfully implemented have an average CPI score of 70, suggesting that the opportunities for corruption in this group are much lower. However, this last group only includes 14 countries: France, Lithuania, Costa Rica, United Kingdom, Singapore, Ireland, Canada, Norway, South Korea, Georgia, Portugal, Belgium , the Czech Republic and Finland.



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