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March 15, 2007    

Elections funding possibilities revealed in report

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by Elaine Frei

Elections funding possibilities revealed in report

A review commissioned by the UK government has suggested a package of reforms to political campaign donation rules, according the a report published Thursday. None of the main political parties have yet agreed to any of the reforms, however, according to Sir Hayden Phillips, who conducted the review. Most analysts doubt that any agreement will be reached before the next election.

Among the proposals were more state funding for political parties and more of a regulatory role for the Electoral Commission. The report also suggests a limit of £50,000 on individual donations, a provision which will likely be unpopular with the Labour Party. Limits on spending, which Sir Hayden said should be cut by round £20 million for the lifetime of a parliament, will probably be unpopular with Conservatives.

Sir Hayden proposed two possible models for public funding of elections. One was a “pence per vote” system based on success at the polls. The other was an internet-based plan in which parties would register supporters online. In that plan, registered supporters could donate £5, to be matched by an identical amount of public funds.

The reforms were estimated in the report to be likely to cost taxpayers around £23.4 million each year, but said that it was a necessary expenditure in order to make political parties financially stable and to end what it called an elections-spending “arms race”.

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