Monitoring local election campaign finances

Transparency in financing political parties and electoral campaigns is the key to limiting political corruption. When receiving – often secretly – significant donations from pressure groups or corporations, parties and candidates for public offices make commitments they fulfill while in office by passing legislation or taking decisions favoring the donors at the expense of society. Though Poland has a relatively stringent campaign finance law in effect since 2000, the majority of opinions expressed through public discourse indicate this law is being flouted. Suggestions are being made to radically amend the law and return to solutions criticized in the late 1990s, e.g. permitting the financing of political activity by business and interest groups.

In June 2006, we initiated the Monitoring local elections campaign finances project, which aims to place under social control financing sources and expenditures by electoral committees supporting candidates in the upcoming local government elections. Monitoring included tracing sources of electoral spending by candidates for voits, mayors and presidents, especially with respect to any use of public funds for this purpose as well as an analysis of donations and expenditures for media campaigns, propaganda materials and electoral rallies.

22 local NGOs participated in the project. In addition to observing electoral campaigns, monitoring teams independently prepared and publicly presented results in their communities localities. A conference will be organized at the culmination of the project in spring 2007 to present the best local reports along with a catalogue of conclusions and recommendations concerning the entire process of electing local authorities.

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