Transformational and progressive political parties are key pillars of a democratic society that delivers development. Parties are important for aggregating interests, mobilizing citizens for political actions including voting in public elections, moulding political leaders as well as developing and promoting policy choices.
To do that parties need resources. The challenge for many political parties in developing countries like Ghana is that the ways in which these resources are mobilized tend to undercut the party’s role in consolidating democracy and delivering development. In this Bulletin, the Center summarizes its research on political party financing in Ghana and its implications for tackling corruption. The Bulletin also lists a number of ways in which the problem can be tackled.
The issue of the linkages between the way parties finance campaigns and operations in Ghana and inability of governing parties to tackle corruption has been a recurring debate since the country was ushered into the Fourth Republic as a multi-party democracy. The debate was recently triggered by Mr. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, a former Minister of Youth and Sports and an executive member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in a rare public confession that the failure of successive governments to effectively fight corruption is due to the existence of political party financiers, who seek to recoup financial investments made in political parties during the election campaign.
“Check all the corruption-related cases, from BOST to whatever, it is linked to campaign financing. There is always a financier there…. Ask yourself which sensible person will sign or agree to this deal, it is because our hands are tied.”
The following studies and publications released by the Center since the early 2000s capture the insights gathered from the general public and governance experts over the period.
2017 CDD-Ghana/WFD Study: Cost of Politics in Ghana
Did you know that in 2016, a parliamentary candidate spent as much as $85,000 on average to contest his/her party’s primaries and the parliamentary elections in Ghana and the most common source of revenue was personal income – one that may have implications for personal debt amongst politicians and consequentially corruption?
Critical Perspectives – State Funding of Political Parties
In a 2009 publication, Prof. E. Kofi Gyimah-Boadi, immediate past Executive Director of CDD-Ghana suggested that direct state funding of political parties, especially funding in cash, must be considered and adopted only after we have exhausted the largely private funding options.
Political Party Financing in Ghana
In a national representative survey conducted in 2004, the following observations were made by respondents.
– Majority (71%) of respondents identified with political parties, but only a limited number (26%) were card-bearing members of parties.
– Eight out of every 10 respondents (80%) believed strongly that there is corruption in political parties.
– Respondents cited ‘unfair business’ (42%), and kickbacks (40%) as the greatest manifestations of political corruption.
– A slight majority (53%) supported state funding while a significant minority (43%) were opposed to the idea.
– Majority (62%) said parties should be allowed to receive contributions from foreign sources.
Lowering the cost of election campaigns
– EC, IPAC and stakeholders should work together to amend PNDC Law 284 to set a six-month period for campaigning during each year of presidential and general elections to minimize cost, check abuse of incumbency and regulate campaign financing.
– EC, IPAC and other major stakeholders should work towards lowering cost including placing a ceiling on campaign expenditure.
– EC should establish an enforcement unit, which should include a legal advisory support, to enforce laws regarding the conditions for maintaining a registered party and accounting for political party campaign finances.
– The EC should work on standardizing its schedule of fees for nomination and accreditation. The Commission should set fees to basically cover administrative cost for services provided. (also allows for transparency, justification for fees and generate IGF).
State Funding of Parties (How it can be done)
– Any cash support for political parties must be limited to “matching funds.” Thus, political parties must be required to raise (and show proof that they have raised) a certain amount of money from their membership, before they may even be considered for state funding.
– Political parties must satisfy all their constitutional and statutory obligations before they qualify for matching funds (meaning they must publish their audited accounts promptly; show the sources of their funds to establish compliance with the law against obtaining funding from non-citizens).
– Restrict the use of public matching funds to specific capacity-building activities like policy research and development as opposed to paying emoluments to party executives and “volunteers” to ensure parties do not become unofficial employment agencies for their so-called foot soldiers.
– Other determining factors include, the number of seats a particular political party has in parliament, the total vote a party obtained in the last general election, the number of functioning regional party offices, and the number of years a particular political party has been in existence.
National Dialogue on the Cost of Politics
– Initiation of a national dialogue among political parties, electoral institutions, and civil society to deliberate on the impact of money on politics and the expectations citizens and politicians have in terms of its regulation.