Political Party Finance Regulation: Lessons for the Middle East and North Africa

“Political Party Finance Regulation: Lessons for the Middle East and North Africa”, The Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU Law & International IDEA Reports: Constitutional Design in the Middle East and North Africa (with K. Glenn Bass) (2014) (also translated into Arabic).

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Political party finance law is the set of norms governing the income and expenses of political parties. While many countries have addressed political party finance constitutionally, such provisions are usually phrased in general terms, such as requirements of transparency, leaving the details to law and to the regulations promulgated by enforcement agencies. Legal reforms to political party finance systems are not a panacea; but when written and implemented well, the legal framework can help address significant challenges that face political party systems. Political party finance law can be divided into five basic design areas: the provision of public funds to parties and campaigns; limits on party income; limits on party spending; disclosure of party finances to the public; and enforcement of political party finance laws. These five key areas are intersected by cross-cutting themes, which must be considered throughout: whether party finance rules operate on an ongoing basis, on an electoral campaign basis, or both; whether party finance rules operate at the national, regional and local levels of party organization, or only at some of these; the role of actors who are not parties or candidates; the use of state resources by parties in power; and the importance of incentivizing compliance with party finance rules. This report applies comparative and academic research on political party finance law to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with a focus on Egypt, Libya and Tunisia as post-authoritarian states that are currently engaged in comprehensive reform of their political institutions and are utilizing examples from other newer and more established democracies.