Towards a citizen-based system of party finance?

By Harold Jansen on Nov 27, 2008

I always enjoy reading or listening to Andrew Coyne, even when I think he's wrong. Today's blog post praising the proposed elimination of the per vote subsidy is an interesting defence of the Conservatives' announcement. In the post, he argues that this moves towards a citizen-based finance system for political parties, arguing that party support should be a private matter between citizens and parties. If that's what we want, the problem is that the per vote subsidy isn't the biggest culprit in this respect. Remember that there are three sources of public money to parties:

  1. the generous tax credits for individual political contributions 
  2. the $1.75 per vote per year subsidy (now $1.95 because of inflation)
  3. the reimbursements of election spending for parties and local candidates

The first two of these sources of public money are at least tied to individual public support. You don't get #1 unless you attracted donations and you don't get #2 unless you earned people's votes. But #3 is entirely dependent on how much you spend, which is almost completely unconnected to popular support (provided you meet the minimum vote thresholds of 2% for a party and 10% for a candidate). That move would be far more consistent with the logic Coyne provides than what the government is doing.

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I may be mistaken but I

I may be mistaken but I thought it was a partial reimbursement. I agree that reimbursements should be removed as well, but I guess this is a case of one thing at a time. I am not getting my hopes up for the removal of reimbursements though, since this a feature of party finance law that likely disproportionately helpsthe conservatives.

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