Where legislation allows for public funding, private funding, or a mix of the two, legislation should ensure that all political parties and candidates are treated equitably with respect to campaign finance and expenditures.
- Regulations on campaign financing should not favour or discriminate against any party or candidate. There should be a clear separation between the state and political parties, and public resources should not be used unfairly for the benefit of one candidate or group of candidates.
- If the law provides for state support for campaign expenditure, parties should receive their funding in good time to allow them to conduct a viable campaign. It should also be checked whether parties from or close to the government have received extra support by virtue of their control of ministries.
- Equality of opportunity must be guaranteed for parties and candidates alike. This entails a neutral attitude by state authorities, in particular with regard to: iii. public funding of parties and campaigns.
- "FAIR" [is] an electoral process where the playing field is reasonably level and accessible to all electors, parties and candidates, and includes: … equitable access to financial and material resources for party and candidate campaigning.
- Depending on the subject matter, equality may be strict or proportional. If it is strict, political parties are treated on an equal footing irrespective of their current parliamentary strength or support among the electorate. If it is proportional, political parties must be treated according to the results achieved in the elections. Equality of opportunity applies in particular to radio and television air-time, public funds, and other forms of backing.
- State authorities must observe their duty of neutrality. In particular, this concerns: iv. funding of parties and candidates.
- Basically there are two forms of funding of parties and candidates: public funding and private funding, with contributions sometimes coming from foreign sources. The legal framework may provide for electoral campaign financing on the basis of the following internationally recognized standards: That there should be a transparent system of disclosure of the funding received by any party or candidate; That there should be no discrimination with regard to access to public funds for any party or candidate; That public funding should be made available to parties on an equitable basis; That there should be a level playing field among the parties or candidates.
- Where the government may provide funds for campaigning, this should be done on a fair and equitable basis.
- Those countries that are not yet funding contesting political parties should introduce the necessary legislation to do so in order to foster uniformity and leveling the playing field.
- It should be remembered that in the field of public funding of parties or campaigns the principle of equality of opportunity applies (“strict” or “proportional” equality).All parties represented in parliament must in all cases qualify for public funding. However, in order to ensure equality of opportunity for all the different political forces, public funding might also be extended to political formations that represent a large section of the electorate and put up candidates for election. The funding of political parties from public funds must be accompanied by supervision of the parties’ accounts by specific public bodies (e.g. the Auditor General’s Department). States should encourage a policy of financial openness on the part of political parties receiving public funding.