Party funding

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The financing of political parties as a term of political science includes revenues, expenditures and financial development of political parties .

In most democracies, the income of political parties comes from four main sources: membership fees, party donations, (direct and indirect) public grants and fees for elected officials / party taxes (fees or "special contributions" from MPs and ministers). These types of income have different meanings for parties in different countries. In the case of individual parties, income from participation in commercial companies sometimes also contributes to the financing.

The financing of parties must be distinguished from the broader term of political financing, which also includes the financing of the parliamentary groups in supranational, national, regional and local parliaments, the members of parliament (and their employees) in all kinds of parliaments and, if applicable, the political foundations .

Individual countries


In an international comparison, party financing in Germany has a number of special features. The proportion of membership fees in the income of the parties is relatively high (with falling membership numbers and high average contributions), the proportion of party donations is significantly lower, at least donations from legal entities. In 2008 this averaged 5%. The importance of donations for party funding in Germany has changed significantly since the 1970s. While donations (large and small) in 1972 still accounted for 44–45% of all income from the CDU and CSU (51% for the FDP in 1976), 13–19% of the total income of the CDU and CSU came from this source of money in 2011–2012 and FDP.

When it comes to the public financing of party activities, different ways are used side by side in Germany: The state partial financing (previously: reimbursement of election campaign costs) covers a considerable part of the total costs. In addition, there are tax benefits for “small donations”, membership fees and fees for mandate holders . Other forms of indirect financing that should be mentioned are free airtime for election advertising on public radio and television and the provision of billboards by municipal authorities. Public funds for the work of parliamentary groups and the “global grants” to political foundations belong in the border area to political financing .

As a consequence of Article 21 of the Basic Law , the German parties report annually on all income, expenditures and the status of their assets for all organizational levels (federal, state, district and community) through printed matter available on the Internet. " No other western democracy even comes close to achieving this level of transparency ." On December 4, 2009, the group of states of the Council of Europe against Corruption (GRECO) recommended further regulations to Germany, such as the publication of accounts for election campaigns, a general ban on anonymous donations, and a significant reduction in the disclosure limit from currently € 10,000. The result of an international comparative empirical analysis of corporate donations supports the transparency requirement for corporate donations. The interior committee of the German Bundestag rejected these proposals with a majority of the (then) governing parties CDU / CSU and FDP.

Independent constituency applicants (direct candidates), for whom at least 10% of the valid first votes were cast, will receive a reimbursement of campaign costs for each valid first vote.


In France, for a long time, all parties felt entitled to convert their political influence on construction and armament projects into party donations. There were also large party donations, especially before elections, from former colonies in France to parties or individual politicians.

The journalist Jean Montaldo published a book in 1994 under the title Mitterrand and the 40 robbers . In it he accused Mitterrand of having tolerated the corruption of socialist party friends around him and of surrounding himself with questionable friends like Bernard Tapie . Montaldo relied mainly on alleged information from François de Grossouvre . This was over 35 years one of the closest associates of Mitterrand and committed in 1994 in the Elysee Palace suicide .

In the summer of 2010 there were two donation scandals: one about President Sarkozy and one about his Minister of Labor, Éric Woerth .

The right to vote was changed in France with the Parité Law 2000. Since then, parties have received less money if they do not comply with the legal requirements for a women's quota within their parliamentary groups.


The Netherlands has had a party support law since 1999. A party benefiting in this way receives a basic amount and additional money per member of parliament and per member (from one thousand members who pay at least € 12 per year each). Join in:

  • free airtime on the radio
  • Money for parliamentary staff
  • Most parties require representatives of the people to pay part of their diets to the party.

There are also private donations . From € 4,537.80 the donor must be published. However, this only applies to parties that actually receive support from the said law. The Party for Freedom has strictly speaking, only a single member and therefore does not benefit from state support, but does not disclose the names of their donors. She is particularly resistant to plans to introduce mandatory publication for all parties.

There are hardly any scandals related to party financing.


In Austria, too, parties are in the 19th century. emerged as voluntary organizations of citizens, which were originally financed only from membership fees and donations . In the meantime, further pillars of fundraising have been added with the mandate holder fees (“party taxes”) and public funds. The basis for public party financing in Austria are the Political Parties Act (“PartG”) and the Political Party Promotion Act (“PartFörG”), most recently revised in 2012. As part of this “transparency package”, numerous new regulations came into force in July 2012, including more stringent disclosure requirements for donations (now over 7,260 EUR). The parties not represented in the National Council are also entitled to funding for their activities in the election year (reimbursement of campaign costs) if they have received more than one percent of the valid votes.

Austrian law differentiates between the campaigning party (appearing on the ballot), the political party responsible for day-to-day political affairs and the parliamentary clubs ( called parliamentary groups in Germany ), each with different income. Clubs have been sponsored since 1963; The current basis is the Club Financing Act of 1985. In addition, party-affiliated organizations (including the party media as part of press funding) and political academies are funded.

In 2009, the parliamentary clubs received EUR 18.5 million in funding, followed by public relations work in accordance with Section 2 PartG with EUR 16 million, reimbursement of election campaign costs with EUR 12.4 million and the party academies with EUR 11.6 million in total : EUR 58.6 million. Funding according to § 2 PartG (the actual core of public party funding) has recently declined slightly and amounted to EUR 15.3 million in 2012, including EUR 4.6 million for the SPÖ before the ÖVP with EUR 4.1 million . Funding for parties and clubs at the federal and state level totaled 205 million euros in 2014. ÖVP and SPÖ alone received 63.8 and 60.2 million respectively.

In March 2019, the National Council decided to change the valorisation clause with retroactive effect from 1 January 2019. According to the law, the subsidies should increase automatically every year and not only when an inflation threshold of 5 percent is reached. An increase of two percent was decided for 2019.


The financing of political parties in Poland is regulated in the Political Parties Act ( ustawa o partiach politycznych ). In 2001 the parties were financed from state funds. This change in funding should meet several requirements. The chances of corruption should be reduced, the financial pressure on the parties should be reduced and younger parties should be given better opportunities. Since 2001, the parties have only been allowed to finance themselves through state funds, membership fees and inheritances. Donations are only allowed from natural persons and only in limited amounts.

Every party that wins at least 3% of the votes in a national parliamentary election has the right to support, the amount of support depends on the election result. In 2008, a total of 107 million zlotys flowed from the state budget to the parties, in 2002 it was 37 million. The weakness of the system was found to be that the party landscape promotes the passivity of the parties and that new parties have fewer opportunities to get into the Sejm . The majority of Poles are still against state funding for the parties. At the beginning of 2009, the Lewica i Demokraci party ( Left and Democrats ) proposed an amendment which, after some changes, was passed by the Sejm in April 2009. Since the Polish President Lech Kaczyński had doubts about the constitutional conformity of the law, he submitted it to the Polish Constitutional Court.


Switzerland is one of the few European countries that do not have any special legal provisions on political parties, neither for their financing nor for the financing of election campaigns. The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) , an organization of the Council of Europe , therefore recommended in 2011 that Switzerland introduce rules on bookkeeping and the disclosure of donations by the parties.

United States

The terms “Money in politics” (H. Alexander) or “Costs of Democracy” (A. Heard) in the USA refer primarily to campaign finance (“campaign finance”) ). This term encompasses all financial resources that are expended to influence the outcome of an election (or vote). Campaign funding is carried out by Political Action Committees (PACs), which are run by candidates, parties, interest groups (associations) or large companies, among others. The largest spending items in the state election campaigns and for federal offices relate to the purchase of airtime from private radio and television stations.

In the USA there is no state-regulated funding for the parties there. More than in Germany, the election campaign goes hand in hand with the search for financial support from private individuals, but this is limited to a maximum contribution per individual. This leads to a greater dependence of the parties on private donors, on the other hand, these connections are also more likely to be disclosed than the z. B. is the case in Germany.

European Union

Since the Treaty of Amsterdam 1997, funding from the budget of the European Union has been provided for political parties at European level . The requirements for party financing are set out in EU Regulation 2004/2003. Ten European parties are currently recognized by the European Parliament.

The distribution of the funds is as follows: 15% of the total amount is distributed equally among all parties. The remaining 85% are distributed among the parties proportionally to the number of their European parliamentarians.

List of party funding in euros per year:

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 * 2018 *
327.164 632.626 1,138,751 1,402,596 1,943,434 1,574,463 2,291,591 2,468,649 2,568,211
ALDE 462,661 819,563 883,500 1,022,344 1,115,665 1,179,191 1,553,984 1,815,770 1,950,344 2,232,476 2,812,798 2,093,480 2,337,149 2,468,649 2,958,493
208.359 259.852 241,807 305.012 387,534 460,950 493.129 499.993 703.529
EDP 69,862 253.933 163,571 152.611 407,693 249.084 423,886 370.916 362,826 436,636 564,673 456.896 517.925 552,500 625,600
EFA 163.222 217.906 220.914 215.198 226,600 226,600 339.152 392.280 382.259 438,864 525.955 635.911 777.490 781.229 963.717
EGP 171,461 568.261 581,000 631.750 641,534 643,562 1,054,999 1,298,539 1,333,372 1,563,218 1,917,890 1,665,874 1,795,489 1,865,999 2,308,022
Tbsp 120,895 365.868 439.019 524.251 536,539 562,405 708.080 846.936 835.049 947,500 1,219,120 1,484,078 1,594,189 1,624,939 1,700,000
EPP 1,051,469 2,398,941 2,914,060 3,156,414 3,354,754 3,485,708 4,959,462 6,183,988 6,482,714 6,463,606 9,326,735 8.053.043 6,917,555 8,893,000 9,653,986
400,778 785.076 1,696,660 1,874,375
SPE 1,093,853 2,489,175 2,580,000 2,992,218 3,027,647 3,100,000 3,395,323 4,117,825 4,323,313 4,985,351 5,297,172 5,828,179 7,154,167 6,941,145 6,888,502
820.725 1,403,388 * 1,102,643 *
170.064 239.410 303.051
AEN 83,964 114,330 144,809 159,138 206.376 384,558
186.292 350.294 363.131 292.013 228.616 419,639 *
328,661 419,639 *
299,109 *
57,763 226.280 153,821 217.167 176.069 166,803 195.364 196,644 273,686 292,428 238.050 419,639 *
368.262 357.089 384.064 521.198 494.264 390,696 419,639 *
457.730 593,589 634.779 43,689
0 **
total 3,217,388 7,227,977 8,154,700 9,319,614 9,973,680 10.048275 13,146,478 16,453,797 18.246.910 20,299,850
* Preliminary fixing (maximum amounts)
** Libertas was awarded preliminary funding of € 202,823 in 2009, but the decision was later reversed.
Parties in italics are not (no longer) registered

International comparison

If you look at party financing in different countries, you can compare the focus of expenditure , the most important sources of income and the legal rules (for the financial aspects of party activity). In most countries (important exception: the USA) the organizations that raise and spend funds for political purposes are parties, more precisely party headquarters or regional and local area associations.


Party related expenses for political competition may relate to

  • Election campaigns by candidates, support groups (proponent committees), interest groups or political parties,
  • intra-party competitions for the nomination of (parliamentary) candidates (e.g. primaries),
  • Education and training of party activists, party officials or candidates,
  • Development of draft policies (programs or individual measures) by parties or party-affiliated organizations,
  • the ongoing operation of party organizations in capital cities and / or at local level,
  • Efforts to provide citizens with political information (also with regard to popular initiatives and referendums).

The main expenditure of the party headquarters is on public relations and election campaigns, mass media (including advertising space and major events), salaries and social benefits for full-time party employees, services from advertising agencies and communications consultants ("spin doctors") and expenses for office space (including rents and operating costs). Local party organizations (such as constituency parties or district associations), which are highly dependent on the voluntary, unpaid work of party activists and other helpers, spend money primarily on postal and telecommunications services as well as the rent and operating costs of office space, which are the focal points of the local Serve party activity.

The Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg has presented comparative data for the total costs of party activity . According to this, Israel, Italy, Japan and Austria are among the most expensive democracies in the world. In contrast, Australia, Canada, Great Britain and the Netherlands are considered to be "low-cost" democracies. The midfield includes Germany, France, Ireland and the USA. “The duration of democratic tradition has a cost-cutting effect; In developing and transition countries, the costs of party competition due to expenditure on 'buying votes' are considerably higher than in established democratic structures that have long become used to impersonal party competition. "


Political income may come from

  • individual citizens who make regular contributions as party members or occasional donations (small donations) as party supporters,
  • wealthy individuals, social organizations (especially interest groups) or companies that support certain political ideas through larger donations ( large donations ) or want to gain access to political actors or offices,
  • from public coffers that directly or indirectly (under certain conditions) promote the political activities of parties.

GM Gidlund has called these three types of fundraising basic finance, plutocratic finance and public finance, respectively.

Legal regulations

Many democracies have now created legal regulations for party funding (party finance regime). Such rules can

  • Bans and restrictions on certain income and expenditure concern,
  • design the scope, distribution and access to public grants,
  • prescribe the transparency of the party finances through regular financial reports and donor lists as well as
  • Include procedural or criminal provisions.

Legal bans on spending for party political purposes concern either election campaign expenses by non-candidates (so-called independent expenses or election advertising by third parties) or the purchase of airtime for election advertising on radio and television. Both types of prohibitions are caught between two constitutional principles, equal opportunities for political competition and freedom of expression (of citizens and organizations).

Great Britain has limited the spending of constituency candidates since 1883. Canada was the first democracy to introduce spending caps on political parties in 1974 and spending caps on candidates for nominations in the constituency in 2004. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that a legal limit on election campaign spending is incompatible with the freedom of expression under the First Amendment, i.e. unconstitutional. To be effective, any limitation on spending in political competition requires careful monitoring, consistent enforcement measures, and appropriate sanctions for any violations.

With regard to income for political purposes, legal incentives such as tax advantages or matching funds, which are intended to promote certain forms of donations (such as contributions from party members or small donations from party supporters), are rather rare. Bans and maximum limits for certain types of intake are more common. For example, corporate (legal entities) donations to political parties (and candidates) are generally prohibited by law in the United States (since 1907), France (since 1995), and Canada (since 2003).

Receipts and materials


  • Alexander Heard: Political financing. In: David I. Sills (Ed.): International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Volume 12, Free Press - Macmillan, New York, NY 1968, pp. 235-241.
  • Khayyam Z. Paltiel: Campaign finance - contrasting practices and reforms. In: David Butler et al. (Ed.): Democracy at the polls - a comparative study of competitive national elections. American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC 1981, pp. 138-172.
  • Hiltrud Naßmacher: Party systems and party finances in Western Europe. In: ZfP . Volume 51, No. 1, 2004, pp. 29-51.
  • Hiltrud Naßmacher: Party systems and party financing in Western Europe. In: The party systems of Western Europe. 2006, pp. 507-519. DOI = 10.1007 / 978-3-531-90061-2_21
  • Ingrid van Biezen: Campaign and party finance. In: Lawrence LeDuc et al. (Ed.): Comparing Democracies - Elections and Voting in the 21st Century. Sage, London et al. 2010, pp. 65-97.
  • Michael Pinto-Duschinsky: Party Finance. In: Betrand Badie et al. (Ed.): International Encyclopedia of Political Science. Sage, London 2011.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Peter Schindler: Data Handbook on the History of the German Bundestag 1949 to 1982. German Bundestag. Bonn 1983, pp. 97, 100; German Bundestag, printed matter No. 18/400, p. 3, 179 and the like, No. 18/401, p. 3.
  2. ↑ List of references in the statement of accounts. German Bundestag, accessed on January 16, 2015 .
  3. Wolfgang Rudzio: The political system of the Federal Republic of Germany. 8th edition. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2011, p. 170f.
  4. ^ Iain McMenamin: If Money Talks, What Does It Say? Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013, p. 138. ("The case for disclosure is straightforward in a co-ordinated economy. If disclosure can minimize both pragmatic and ideological financing, there is little reason to introduce bans or limits on business funding." )
  5. German Bundestag, printed matter 17/8200, p. 6f.
  6. ↑ Reimbursement of election campaign costs . Service., accessed on September 21, 2017 .
  7. Bettencourt affair calls for farmers sacrifice, July 13, 2010.
  8. For both types of intake, see Hubert Sickinger: Political Financing in Austria. 2nd Edition. Czernin-Verlag, Vienna 2009, pp. 136–182.
  9. ^ Sd H. Sickinger: Political Financing. 2009, pp. 226-235.
  10. ^ Sd H. Sickinger: Political Financing. 2009, pp. 236-265, 288-350.
  11. parties Promotion Act 2012 § 1 para. 3 legal text . Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  12. Stephan Lenzhofer: The new party funding: more transparency in exchange for increased government subsidies. ( Memento of the original from April 5, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice., accessed on June 11, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  13. Herbert E. Meister: European Legal Studies: Preliminary Studies for a Positive Realism - Volume 1 and 2 . 1st edition. Pro Business, 2015, ISBN 978-3-86460-266-5 , pp. 444 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  14. Party funding (2002–2012). ( Memento of the original from July 26, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 38 kB) Website of the Austrian Federal Chancellery, accessed on June 11, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  15. Party funding: ÖVP before SPÖ largest recipient of subsidies. In: The Standard . December 14, 2014.
  16. National Council: Party funding will be increased annually in future . Parliamentary correspondence of March 29, 2019, accessed on March 29, 2019.
  17. a b Jarosław Zbieranek: . Poland Analysis No. 54 - party funding. ( Memento of the original from February 11, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Research Center for Eastern Europe at the University of Bremen, June 16, 2009, pp. 2–10. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  18. Aleksandra Jackowska: I. Sub we ncje bu d¿e to we dla partii politycznych - kwoty i tendencje. In: Subwencje z budżetu państwa dla partii politycznych. Instystut Spraw Publicznych, Warsaw 2008, p. 15.
  19. Evaluation report on Switzerland: Transparency of party funding (topic II). ( Memento of April 15, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 197 kB). Groupe d'Etats contre la corruption ( GRECO ), Greco Eval III Rep (2011) 4F, October 21, 2011.
  20. Regulation (EC) No. 2004/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of November 4, 2003 on the regulations for political parties at European level and their funding., December 27, 2007 (PDF)
  23. (PDF)
  24. Detailed studies of the local party organizations are mainly from Canada (R. Kenneth Carty: Canadian Political Parties in the Constituencies. Dundurn, Toronto 1991) and Great Britain (Patrick Seyd, Paul Whiteley: Labor's Grass Roots: The Politics of Party Membership. Clarendon , Oxford 1992 or this: New Labor's Grassroots: The Transformation of the Labor Party Membership. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke 2002 and Paul Whiteley, Patrick Seyd, Jeremy Richardson: True Blues. The Politics of Conservative Party Membership. Oxford University Press, New York 1994).
  25. a b Is our democracy too expensive? In: Insights. No. 39, 2004, p. 24; see also PDF (accessed March 3, 2015)
  26. ^ Similar to Arnold Heidenheimer: Comparative Political Finance - Notes on Practices and towards a Theory. In: Journal of Politics. Volume 25, No. 3, 1963, p. 798 (or ders .: Comparative Political Finance. The Financing of Party Organizations and Election Campaigns. DC Heath, Lexington, MA 1970, p. 12; Michael Pinto-Duschinsky: British Political Finance 1830–1980. American Enterprise Institute, Washington / London 1981, pp. 28–30.)
  27. For corporate donations see: Andrea Römmele: Corporate donations in party and election campaign financing. The USA, Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany and Great Britain in an international comparison. Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden 1995; Iain McMenamin: If Money Talks, What Does It Say? Corruption and Business Financing of Political Parties. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013.
  28. Gullan M. Gidlund: Partistöd (Swedish with English summary), CWK Gleerup, Umeå 1983, pp. 55, 353.
  29. ^ Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act, 1883. Sd Michael Pinto-Duschinsky: British Political Finance 1830–1980. American Enterprise Institute, Washington DC and London 1981, pp. 248-252.
  30. Canada Elections Act, 1974 and 2004.
  31. Buckley v. Valeo 424 U, p. 1.
  32. ^ Regulation of Party Finance. In: Richard S. Katz, William Crotty (Eds.): Handbook of Party Politics. Sage, London 2006, pp. 446f.
  33. ^ Citizens Cash in Canada and the United States. In: Herbert E. Alexander, Rei Shiratori (Ed.): Comparative political finance among the democracies. Westview Press, Boulder CO 1994, pp. 145-157.
  34. Susanne Fischer: Money is looking for its way. In: Der Spiegel. No. 5/2000, pp. 44f.