If public funds are distributed to political parties and candidates, those funds should be available on an equitable basis.
- 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.
- Political parties and candidates should have equitable access to public funds, and the rules regarding public funding should be clearly stated in law.
- 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.
- The use of public resources for political campaigns and political party activities should generally be avoided but, if permitted, access thereto must be equitable and be paid for, and conditions for such access and payment must be clearly provided for in the law.
- Where there are provisions in the legal framework for elections relating to private contributions to campaign expenses incurred on behalf of parties and candidates, these should be so designed as to ensure equality of freedom to raise private funds. Furthermore, these provisions may include limits on contributions in order to 'level the playing field' to a reasonable degree, taking into account geographic, demographic and material costs.
- Where legislation foresees public funding, political parties must have access to it subject to possible minimum requirements. The latter must be reasonable and non-discriminatory. Apart from different forms of funding provided for by law, any party must refrain from receiving assistance, financial or in kind, from any public authorities, particularly those directed by its members.
- 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.
- If the legal framework for elections provides for public funding, it should be provided on the basis of equity. This does not mean that all political parties and candidates are to receive an equal amount of campaign funds. Provisions for public funding should be clearly stated in the law and based on objective criteria that are not open to subjective interpretation by government authorities.
- Any provisions for public funding should be clearly stated in the law and based on objective criteria that is not open to subjective interpretation by government authorities. Additionally, the legal framework should ensure that state resources are not misused for campaign purposes and that they are used only with strict adherence to the applicable legal provisions.
- 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.