An Opposition to be Effective Needs Money. Read the Economist’s Bagehot as to Why

Making the case for money in politics ain’t easy. Still, Opposition International agrees with the esteemed Bagehot proper funding improves the quality of the workforce of democracy. A prime directive: we advocate for increased funding of opposition parties with less unrealistic regulations and with substantial yet secure transparency.

The past 30 years is littered with attempts to get money out of politics by waves of law saying who can and who cannot give me money to political parties and candidates and how much, all to be published. Heavy penalties are stipulated for even minor infractions.

The massive weight of regulations has created the classic bootlegger/Baptist paralysis. The latter demand higher and higher levels of purity and virtue in political donations. The bootleggers do very well in finding ways with high transaction costs and low transparency to fill the needs. Incumbent parties able to get government jobs and contracts have a motive to curtail donations to opponent parties. For all its good work, Transparency International rarely looks into the cost of virtue on competitive fairness in politics.

Opposition International is currently running a research project on the treatment of diaspora donations to homeland parties. IDEA International and the affiliated V-Dem Institute have cataloged some of the regulations across nations, which range from no regulation to outright criminality. They both state the need for more work in the field. Our purpose is to prod bigger better-enabled international legal organizations to convene an initiative to propose model legislation to regularize diaspora donations uniformly and transparently at a level to truly level the field of political finance.

Duncan “Bagehot” Robinson’s article points to the urgency of a sensible rebalancing of political party access to working capital in Britain. The same dynamic holds for almost all democratic nations. The outlier is the United States. The American sui generis interaction of money and politics should not deter the rest of the democratic world from taking action for themselves.

The adequate funding of what goes into the democratic process is the cost of an empowered citizenry and an accountable government. Included in the deal is allowing opposition parties to receive contributions from their supporters.