This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union.
We are looking for best practices regarding the prevention of abuse of public resources for political gain, particularly during election periods.
- Approaches to tackling the abuse of state resources
- Comparative assessments
- Further reading
The abuse of state resources should be understood broadly, and can encompass any use of publicly-owned resources that affects the operation of political parties or electoral campaigns in a way that favours one party or candidate at the expense of other contestants. As such, the abuse of state resources ranges from the use of government-owned infrastructure for electoral advantage to the manipulation of state-owned media and electoral laws. Although such practices are generally more visible during election campaigns and are typically an attempt to obtain an electoral advantage, the abuse of state resources can take place during non-election periods as well.
It is a challenging and difficult task to draw a firm line between legitimate functions and activities of public officials and illegitimate actions constituting the abuse of state resources. There are also considerable difficulties associated with identification, verification and substantiation of abuses.
Since the issue of abuse of state resources goes beyond elections, it is important to note that election laws and/or campaign finance regulations alone will not be enough to effectively prevent the abuse of state resources for political gain. There needs to be a comprehensive approach to the issue through the creation of a robust overall legal framework that sets rules for the general conduct of public officials, effective management of public finances and an impartial public sector. Rules and laws need to be supported with strong oversight exercised by state institutions, media and civil society.
Matthew Jenkins, Transparency International