International IDEA together with the Electoral Court of the Federal Judiciary of Mexico will host the first global conference on Money in Politics. The conference aims to lead to a more unified, broad and coherent response to one of today’s greatest causes underlying the crisis of political systems around the world, the role of money in politics.
The focus of the conference will be on four core areas that International IDEA and TEPJF have identified as constituting the basis for a sound political finance system: a fair and levelled playing field for political competition; increased financial accountability of political actors to citizens; the protection of democratic politics from money-based influence and effective enforcement of political finance regulations.
By gathering leading researchers, practitioners and policy makers, the conference will address these issues from several different angles. New research and policy areas will be identified and targeted; lessons learned will be captured in order to inspire future best practice in policy making; and practitioners from various fields will have the opportunity to meet and form a more coordinated and coherent response to some of the challenges that money in politics pose.
The Global Conference will inform and advance the global debate on money in politics by providing a forum where leading actors from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Arab World and the Americas – both from within and outside of politics – convene to discuss the most pressing challenges of money in politics as well as share their own experiences on how to overcome them. Through plenaries where best practice and reform agendas will be discussed, the conference will unpack the concept of a holistic approach to money in politics with the aim that these discussions will subsequently inform global priorities and responses.
The conference will also contribute to the creation of a comprehensive knowledge base on money in politics through the identification of core areas that require further research and more coherent policy responses. Besides being a forum for networking and sharing experience, the conference will provide the opportunity to set up a coordination platform between individuals and organisations actively researching this field with the purpose of jointly driving and advancing the global research agenda on money in politics.
The conference consists of four themes under which the working sessions are organised:
Money-based influence on political representation has risen to become one of the main challenges to political integrity. The threats to democracy include, clientelistic networks that connect politicians with voters through an exchange of gifts or benefits for political support; the influence of illicit funds; large campaign donations surrounded by secrecy that fuel corruption and the close ties between business and politics. In this session, we aim to address these issues from a global perspective in order to discuss how we together can strengthen and protect democratic politics.
Access to financial resources has come to determine whether a candidate or party can contest and win an election or not. In many countries we see how the access to funds and the lack thereof have created unequal playing fields for electoral competition. Moreover, a lack of access to financial resources is considered to be one of the main obstacles to women’s’ participation in politics since women, especially in emerging democracies, have less access to moneyed networks compared with their male colleagues. This theme will critically examine the effects of existing tools and intervening mechanisms that aim to achieve more level playing field. Topics such as public funding, gender quotas, earmarked funding and the cost of electoral campaigns will be discussed.
Transparency is a key factor in political accountability. Citizens need to know how their representatives fund their election campaigns, who contributes to them and when. Although there are many different systems for reporting and disclosure, meaningful transparency of political finance requires, in addition to legislation, the political will of both parties and oversight agencies. Thereby, there is a need to address this issue from a comparative angel. This theme will discuss how transparency can be encouraged and enforced, the role of civil society monitoring and parties compliance with reporting requirements.
Rules on donations and spending, earmarked funding and reporting requirements are of little importance unless they are backed up by an effective enforcement system. Although there are many ways to build such a system, they often include mechanisms for reporting, oversight and effective sanctions that can be implemented should a party or candidate fail to comply with the legislation. Since no legislation is effective without proper enforcement, the working sessions aim at addressing key pitfalls such as weak enforcement agencies, limited oversight, ineffective sanctioning systems and abuse of state resources. The working sessions will also discuss actions and strategies that do work and participants will share best practises and lessons learned from the field.