What if no political party was allowed to accept donations? What if, during election time, every party was attributed a sum of money that was directly related to the number of seats they were going to run. A further stipulation would be, that of those per-seat allocated funds, a certain percentage had to be spend in that riding. So you couldn’t pool it all together for a massive national campaign.
But that’s not enough money, say you? Ok then. We’ll still accept donations, in any amount. However, this money doesn’t go into a single party’s pockets, it goes into a pool. This money is then split anonymously amongst all the parties, again, based on the number of seats they are running in (and in non-election years, parties would still have to claim these active seats in order for them to count), and the same expenditure proportions will be kept. There would be a minimum annual budget for all of this, and this money would be used before tax dollars to create the budget, so that potentially, politics wouldn’t cost the taxpayer anything. And it still encourages political parties to hold fund-raisers, because the more money they get donated, the more they’ll have to play with, after is has been split up.
So what does this do? Well, it still encourages people to donate to the democatic process, it encourages political interactions at the local (riding) level, by forcing parties to spend money in each riding. It reduces the chances of a particular politician of being bought. It evens out the financial abilities of the party, which should ensure a fairer race. By continuing to give nice tax-breaks for political donations, it should still encourage companies to be involved. Only they can’t direct the funds.
Furthermore to this, all media should be required to donate ‘prime-time’ (or prime real estate) advertising to politics. This, of course, would count as a donation for whatever length of time they’re donating is worth. These donations would also go into a pool, and assigned to parties by lottery. Local advertising, obviously, only parties with a presence are eligible. National advertising, perhaps there’s a threshold for which a party is considered national. My gut says a party is national if they run enough seats that they could conceivably win the election (50% + 1). No political party should be allowed to directly buy advertising, only use what space is allotted to them. Again, to even out media-exposure. And if they don’t want the advertising? Then it simply goes back into the pool for the lottery to be drawn again.
That’s my thought for the day on electoral-contribution reform, after Leah and I were talking about it on the weekend..