Political financing

Ask the Experts

Political financing

 How has the gender funding gap been addressed in legislation or by political parties? 

Answer: 

The gender bias in funding is a big problem for women candidates in election, especially since everywhere the cost of electoral campaigns just increases. From a democracy point of view this is very problematic, since elected assemblies should reflect the compositions of society. An especially vulnerable group are local women candidates who have spent a lot of family money, but failed to get elected. Will she ever stand for elections again?

The first important principle is that, in a party political system, the political parties, not the individual candidate, should take the main responsibility for financing their candidates campaigns.  And the parties should not discriminate against their female candidates.

The second important principle is that there should be a limit to the total expenditures in an election campaign. Since this is a question of competition between political parties, an agreement should be reached among all political parties well in advance of the election, or this should be regulated by law, binding for all parties and candidates. Some countries do have such rules, and I guess it will be more and more common in the future. From a gender perspective a control of campaign financing is urgent.

International IDEA has made an excellent handbook: Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns. It is from 2003, but still valid. You can find it for free downloading at www.idea.int

best wishes
Drude Dahlerup, prof.
www.drudedahlerup.com

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