Resolution 105 (2000)1 on the financial transparency of political parties and their democratic functioning at regional level

The Congress,

Bearing in mind the proposal of the Chamber of Regions,

1. Referring to the report submitted by Mr Haegi on “The democratic functioning and financial transparency of political parties at regional level”;

2. Mindful of the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS N°173), signed on 21 January 1999, and the Civil Law Convention on Corruption (ETS N°174), signed on 4 November 1999, as well as Opinions 207 (of 23 June 1998) and 213 (of 26 May 1999) of the Parliamentary Assembly thereon;

3. Bearing in mind Resolution 79 (99) and Recommendation 60 (99) adopted during the plenary Session of the Congress in 1999, following the report of Mr Viorel Coifan on "The political integrity of local and regional elected representatives";

4. Supporting Recommendation (99) 15 of the Committee of Ministers on measures concerning media coverage of election campaigns;

5. Welcoming the Venice Commission’s current work on constitutional and legislative provisions concerning political party financing, and the related work done some years ago by the Council of Europe Directorate of Political Affairs;

6. Convinced that the financial resources deployed in election campaigns can be as influential as party programmes or candidates in determining voting behaviour (and thus election outcomes);

7. Considering that, in the light of the foregoing, parties are entitled to receive financial support from public and private funds but that the public is equally entitled to know the various parties’ sources of funding (because such information may determine voting behaviour);

8. Convinced that greater transparency in political party financing is important at regional as well as other levels;

I — Asks regional authorities to :

9. Take appropriate steps to make the financing of political parties at regional level more transparent;

10. See that the financing of political groupings and regional elections is regulated so as to promote such transparency and that any loopholes in existing arrangements are gradually plugged;

11. Ensure that the financing of political groupings and regional elections is not only subject to traditional parliamentary scrutiny but is also monitored by an independent body such as a court of auditors;

12. Grant, in the interests of pluralism, public subsidies to political parties of every persuasion that operate at regional level (on the understanding that the rate of subsidy may be varied according to the representativeness of the different groupings);

13. Ensure that the system of reimbursing election campaign expenses is sufficiently well developed to permit regional elections to take place in a genuinely pluralistic climate;

14. Take steps to ensure that all political parties have basic access to regional media;

15. Ensure that the accounts of political parties at regional level are published regularly (annually if possible);

16. Prohibit anonymous donations or bequests to political groupings at regional level, taking care to stipulate amounts in excess of which anonymity is incompatible with transparency;

17. Consider drafting, in consultation with all the competent authorities, and with the assistance, inter alia, of associations of local and regional authorities and of elected representatives, brief guides reminding candidates for regional elective office of their obligations in respect of transparency in the financing of election campaigns;

II — Asks the Bureau to :

18. Instruct the relevant committee of the Congress to establish a basis for ongoing co-operation with, in particular, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly and Directorate General for Legal Affairs, with a view to considering the feasibility of a European observatory on the financing of parties and politics, including the local and regional levels;

19. Encourage the relevant committee of the Congress to initiate co-operation in this field with the Committee of the Regions of the European Union;

III — Requests the Congress delegates, as individuals, to work tirelessly in their own constituencies for greater transparency in political party funding.

1 Debated and approved by the Chamber of Regions on 24 May 2000 and adopted by the Standing Committee of the Congress on 25 May 2000 (see Doc. CPR (7) 7, draft resolution, presented by Mr C. Haegi, rapporteur).

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