National Forum “Our Money in Elections”
On October 18, 2018, IFES, jointly with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the USAID Responsible Accountable Democratic Assembly (RADA) Program, organized the national “Our Money in Elections” forum on political finance reform in Ukraine. The event assembled more than 100 participants including prominent political finance experts, international political finance oversight bodies, politicians and representatives of Ukraine’s CEC and civil society organizations. The forum provided a platform for key political and electoral actors to engage in constructive dialogue on lessons learned from the past year and coordinate on next steps for political finance reform of the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections.
In his opening remarks, IFES Ukraine Deputy Country Director Gio Kobakhidze stressed that, “in Ukraine, civil society in particular, will have the herculean task of not only encouraging greater accountability and transparency of the electoral contestants, but also encouraging the independence and integrity of their political finance regulators who will be applying Ukraine’s fairly new political finance framework for the first time in a national election this March”.
During the Forum, participants discussed the most pressing issues in the realm of political and campaign finance including key challenges for the legal regulation of money in elections, instruments and opportunities for non-state actors to monitor financing of parties and candidates in elections, the new model of campaign finance state oversight and novelties that candidates and parties face when it comes to campaign spending and fundraising.
The participants of the Forum have reached a large degree of consensus on the following important steps that need to be undertaken to strengthen transparency and regulation of money in Ukrainian politics:
- Harmonization of the provisions of the Local Elections Law governing campaign finance with the campaign finance rules laid down in the laws governing national elections;
- Delineation of powers of the campaign oversight institutions, including the CEC and the NAPC to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure effective campaign finance oversight;
- Establishment of proportionate, effective and dissuasive sanctions for political finance violations;
- Development of measures to decrease campaign spending by parties and candidates in the presidential and local elections;
- Revision of legal provisions for political finance reporting that would provide for the establishment of e-reporting system for parties and candidates to allow for a comprehensive, unbiased and timely review of the party financial reports;
- Provision of sufficient time and organizational and human resources to the electoral administration and the NAPC;
- Regulation of “third party” funding for election campaigns.