In the framework of the NIS, we established a working group on political parties with some external experts (from politics, academia, and civil society). Our aim is to organise three meetings in order to publish a policy paper ahead of the electoral campaigns in 2013.
1. Intra-Party democracy 2. Political party financing 3. Minimum standards for candidates 4. References
Political parties play a key role in democratic processes. The growing concern related to the role of money in politics, in addition to society’s lack of trust in political parties, has driven several reforms in many countries across the globe. Countries and political parties have sought to improve party governance and funding rules, as well as enhance transparency and accountability. Among other organisational activities, intra-party democracy typically relates to how party candidates and leaders are selected, as well as how the party defines its programme and policy positions – with issues of inclusiveness, centralisation and institutionalisation at the core of the concerns. In many countries, such matters must conform to specific party laws. In others, parties decide upon their internal democracy without any influence from the state. Best practices have pointed to a certain degree of external regulation to ensure that political parties “practice what they preach.”
With regard to political party financing, although there is no single “best practice” model, there is a broad consensus that countries should seek to regulate public and private funding, establish ceiling on expenditures, limit contributions, as well as ensure high levels of transparency. It is also key to have an independent oversight institution to implement and enforce the legislation.
In terms of minimum requirements for candidates, in addition to age, citizenship and a certain level of educational qualifications, which are often conditions for eligibility, countries should seek to exclude individuals convicted for corruption or other electoral crimes or contraventions from running for public office.