University of Sussex
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Party funding regimes and corruption in Western Europe: a comparative study of Great Britain and Denmark

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posted on 2023-06-09, 12:32 authored by Samuel PowerSamuel Power
There is an almost Europewide trend that party funding regime change - or proposed regime change - manifests itself in a move from private to public subsidisation. There are a number of drivers that have been identified as a reason for this such as institutional proximity to other states enacting reform, explicit financial/electoral strategy and wider party organisational change. In recent years, however, it has generally been accepted that corruption is an increasingly important variable in explaining this change. In this sense the change from a system of private funding to state subsidisation is seen as a remedy against corrupt practice. As an almost necessarily less corrupt form of party financing. Research shows that the empirical evidence on this is both patchy and unclear. This thesis considers whether different types of corruption are prevalent in differenttypes of party funding regime (i.e. those that are predominantly privately financed and those that are predominantly state financed). The analysis utilises the elite interview, extensive documentary research and operationalises the logic of appropriateness to answer the central research question: does the amount of state subsidisation in a country have an effect on the type of corruption? Drawing on evidence from a comparison of Great Britain and Denmark, this thesis argues that the level of state subsidy is, in fact, unrelated to the type of corruption that we find, perceived or otherwise. Thus, if subsidies are to be introduced or sustained they must be done so for other reasons - they are not a cure for corruption, or importantly, perceived corruption. They can, however, be justified on public utility grounds. Anti-corruption measures should focus on other regulations, but even then we should not expect such measures to impact on perceptions of corruption.


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