Can you provide an overview of the main international and European Union instruments and principles or best practices related to access to information on political party operations (in particular, financial operations and donations)? Are political parties covered by access to information laws? And what are the principles or best practices regarding the failure by political parties to provide such information?
1. Are political parties covered by access to information laws? 2. Regulating access to information and political parties’ operations 3. Sanctions for non-compliance 4. References
Political parties play an important role in the democratic process, and access to information regarding their activities, particularly their finances, is key to ensure control over money in politics. In the majority of countries across the world, political parties, due to their legal status, do not feature among the institutions required to respond to citizens’ access to information requests, but this does not mean that political parties should not report and disclose information related to their activities. Political funding rules often include provisions requiring political parties to disclose such information. International standards put forward by intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations have called on countries to establish clear rules requiring political parties to regularly disclose information about their operations, in particular about their finances. Such information should be made available to the public either by the political parties themselves or by the responsible oversight agency. In addition, to ensure that the information disclosed reflects reality, political parties should be obliged to keep proper books and accounts containing detailed information on all sources of income, donations and expenditures during the financial year and elections. Countries should also provide for effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions to ensure compliance with the law.