Money matters. There is a growing understanding worldwide that the best administered electoral process can fail to benefit democratic development if the results are controlled by money rather than by the popular support for policy platforms and electoral contestants.
Attempts to control the role of money in electoral politics have been ongoing for decades, starting in many cases in Latin American countries in the early 20th century. A lesson learned is that well adjusted policies that are properly enforced can help to reduce the negative impact of money in politics, without robbing electoral contestants of the funds needed to run interactive election campaigns. However, there is no doubt that this work is often frustrating, prone to set-backs and exceptionally time consuming. No country in the world has come to a point where money in politics is not a contentious issue.
BRIDGE has previously covered the issue of political finance by incorporating it into other sections of the curriculum. However, over the years it became clear that this area needed closer attention, included in a separate module. Following a development workshop organised at International IDEA in June 2009, IFES Senior Political Finance Advisor Magnus Ohman and BRIDGE training expert Therese Pearce Laanela wrote the political finance module. All BRIDGE partners endorsed it on 5 November 2010 after consultations.
The new module, which falls under the thematic group “Working with Electoral Stakeholders,” focuses on a range of issues concerning money in politics, from the dynamics of money in politics to effective regulation and oversight and the building of awareness. The module is aimed at many stakeholders, including political finance regulators, legislators, political parties, media and civil society activists; workshops can be adjusted to fit each audience. Like other modules, political finance workshops can range from one day to more than a week; it is also anticipated that the module may be combined with others for wide-ranging workshops. The BRIDGE partners hope the new module will play a positive role in engaging stakeholders and building consensus on how money in politics can support democratic development around the world.