Election and political party funding – file a disclosure
As a rule, funding accepted by an electoral candidate or a political party must be disclosed. Transparency may even increase the voter turnout.
The legislation governing election and political party funding aims to prevent corruption and undue influence that is based on inappropriate ties to third parties.
In Finland, candidates and political parties are not, as a rule, allowed to accept
- financial support from abroad
- financial support from certain public sector entities, such as local authorities, joint municipal authorities or associations governed by public law
- any financial support, the donor of which cannot be identified.
The National Audit Office oversees the election and political party funding in Finland. A disclosure of financial support received for an election campaign or the activities of a political party must be filed with the Office.
When is a disclosure required?
Disclosure of election funding
As a rule, all persons elected to an office, including deputies, must file a disclosure of funding they have received for their election campaign. This applies to parliamentary, municipal and European elections. In presidential elections, a disclosure must be filed by all political parties and constituency associations nominating a candidate. In case of a constituency association, the polling representative or his or her deputy is responsible for filing the disclosure.
Election funding means funding raised to cover such costs of a candidate’s election campaign that are incurred over a period
- starting six months before the election day at the earliest and
- ending two weeks after the election day at the latest.
Disclosure of political party funding
As for political party funding, registered political parties and their party associations, in other words district and local organisations, women's organisations and other affiliated entities, must file a disclosure of the financial support they have received.
A disclosure of financial support received by a political party, a party association or an affiliated entity must be filed if the value of an individual contribution or the total value of several contributions from the same donor is at least EUR 1,500 per calendar year.
On the website of the Oversight of Election Campaign and Political Party Financing you will find
- instructions for filing disclosures
- disclosures filed by candidates and political parties
- disclosures filed for each election
- financial statements of political parties.
Funding still associated with corruption risks
The Finnish legislation governing election and political party funding was reformed in 2009–2010 following the election funding scandal. The most recent amendments entered into force in the beginning of 2016. The legislative amendments have significantly increased transparency.
However, the fact that the statutory obligation to disclose information does not apply to all actors remains a problem. For example, candidates not elected and many entities affiliated with party organisations are not required to disclose any information about their fund-raising activities.
In addition, financial support received from third parties may be entered into the accounts as rents or sales revenues, leaving the source of the funds unknown. Cash donations may be completely left off balance sheet.
It is extremely important to act in an open and transparent manner. Malpractice weakens citizens' trust in the political activities, while transparency may even increase the voter turnout.
Consider this: How do your actions seem from outside? Could media become interested in your case and write an article about it? Can you stand behind your actions?
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