HomeIs sunshine the best disinfectant? Transparency and campaign finance reform in comparative perspective

Is sunshine the best disinfectant? Transparency and campaign finance reform in comparative perspective

Clair-obscur : transparence et moralisation de la vie politique en perspective comparée

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Published on Thursday, October 01, 2015 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

Since the 1970s, western democracies have gone through numerous attempts at political reform. Through various means, some countries have tried to clarify the rules pertaining to the financing of electoral campaigns and political parties to fight corruption and the influence of wealth at the ballot box. Among the numerous paths this regulation may have taken, a common thread seems to have emerged: the insistence on making campaign and party finances more transparent. To borrow the famous phrase by Justice Brandeis, it is still commonly believed that when it comes to political corruption: “sunshine is the best disinfectant”. Thus, the very idea of transparency has become a major goal in most democratic states. Despite these efforts, the regular recurrence of political scandals shows the imperfections of whatever framework or mechanisms different countries may have chosen. Besides, as governments move toward more transparency citizens can be overwhelmed by a torrent of data scattered about in official reports, disclosure filings, financial accounts, judicial decisions or administrative rulings, contributing to clouding the overall picture. Thus, it is worth asking: did transparency reform the political system?

Announcement

Argument

To provide a first tentative answer to this question, we would like to begin a collective effort studying how different countries provide different answers. This reflection would be organized along different themes.

First, it would be fruitful to describe different modes of regulation of campaign and party financing with a particular focus on the actors in charge of enforcing the rules whether it'd be an independent institution, the courts, and whether citizens can actually participate in the process. Looking at the statutory regimes in various countries should be an occasion to observe if certain models do not emerge and ask what is the role of supranational organizations in strengthening transparency rules and if there isn't a trend toward more uniformity. At the same time, we would like to encourage a reflection on the criminalization of politics and how such punishment actually improves behavior or leads to unintended consequences.

Beyond this focus on the work of the legislature, it is essential to look at the role of constitutional courts when it comes to the financing of politics. Do they work to further or actually undermine the actions of lawmakers? How do they reconcile free speech, freedom of association and the impulse to reform through transparency? What is their vision for reform?

Finally, we encourage proposals that would focus on the different kinds of reports that document the control of the financing of politics. A comparative approach should allow us to study how lawmakers provide citizens with the requisite tools to actually control elected officials or whether this transparency is largely make believe that only contributes to confuse voters with too much information.

Submission guidelines

The papers would be presented at a conference held on the campus of the Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté in Dijon, France on October 27th and 28th. Please send your abstracts (3000 characters maximum) and résumé to colloquetransparence2016@gmail.com

by November 15th, 2015.

Organizing committee

  • Dominique Andolfatto, Professor, Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté
  • Elsa Forey, Professor, Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté
  • Aurore Granero, Associate Professor, Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté
  • Alix Meyer, Associate Professor, Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté
  • Romain Rambaud, Professor, Université Grenoble-Alpes, Faculté de droit de Grenoble

Places

  • Université de Bourgogne, 4 Boulevard Gabriel
    Dijon, France (21)

Date(s)

  • Sunday, November 15, 2015

Keywords

  • financement, parti, campagne électorale, transparence, moralisation

Contact(s)

  • Elsa Forey
    courriel : elsa [dot] forey [at] wanadoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Elsa Forey
    courriel : elsa [dot] forey [at] wanadoo [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Is sunshine the best disinfectant? Transparency and campaign finance reform in comparative perspective », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, October 01, 2015, https://calenda.org/340315

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