Edwards on Political Finance

Otago University Lecturer had an article on published in the latest . Once can read a pdf of the article here.

He makes a number of interesting findings:

  1. The US political finance system is one of the most regulated in the world
  2. NZ has been shifting more towards a US style system
  3. Countries where political finance is relatively unregulated tend to have relatively low levels of campaign spending
  4. Greater regulation leads to greater loopholes, leading to even greater regulation and inevitably great complexity
  5. In the US companies and trade unions are banned from donating to candidates and individuals can not donate more than $2,200, yet enormous “soft money” goes to political action committees instead.
  6. In NZ a political party could set up a business unit which provides advice to businesses or unions, and could charge $1 million for such advice, and that would not be counted as a donation to be disclosed.
  7. That rhetoric in NZ that only people with legitimate issues should be free to advocate is highly dangerous as the state gets to decide what and who is legitimate – a flashback to Muldoon in 1979 who mooted banning the Socialist Unity Party
  8. The lesson from the US is clear – political finance regulation stifles political competion and favours the wealthy.
  9. Poor people are deterred from participation in politics when the compliance costs get high.
  10. Voters have a healthy scepticism against parties and candidates trying to “buy” their way into office and this can be the most effective safeguard.
  11. Political finance regulations are always designed to benefit one party over another – it is very hard to get “neutral” regulations.
  12. Democracy is enhanced by parties having sovereignty over their own affairs, and voters making the final decision on whether they approve of how a party conducts its affairs.

It is ironic that Labour, NZ First and the Greens were so insistent at foisting on NZ an American style political finance system.

Comments (35)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment

%d bloggers like this: