In some democracies, amount a party or candidate can spend towards election campaign is not regulated or poorly regulated. In which countries election spending or contributions are strictly regulated and are there any observable improvements/differences?

  • I don't think limits on the amount a candidate can spend would solve anything - you would just end up with a candidate who has more money than he can spend, some of it still from some big rich donors. Pretty sure no country would has the regulations you're talking about because of this. – David says Reinstate Monica Mar 4 '17 at 19:04
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    @DavidGrinberg I did not get your argument. If there is no limit, candidates backed by rich can buy media resources and flood the audience with his campaign drowning out the opposition. Putting a limit ensures poor candidates can think of competing and hence participate more. – akm Mar 4 '17 at 19:13
  • If you have a limit on campaign spending it may 'level the playing field' (highly debatable), but you will still have the problem of some candiates having a big warchest filled with money from big spenders that they can spend on other stuff not directly related to their campaign. This is why the argument is usually for regulations on campaign contributions, not campaign spending. – David says Reinstate Monica Mar 4 '17 at 19:17
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    i understand there can be unrecorded spending, but then there can be unrecorded contribution as well. also, it is unlikely that a policy/rule/law will totally cure the problem, it is made to improve the situation. that is what i am looking for. – akm Mar 4 '17 at 19:27
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    @DavidGrinberg It can be seen the other way around, if there is a limit in campaign spending then politicians are less involved in campaign fundraising (for an example of how it works in the USA youtube.com/watch?v=Ylomy1Aw9Hk). And (outside someone wishing to pocket the money) why would a politician want to have a big war chest if he is not able to use it for campaign? – SJuan76 Mar 4 '17 at 22:58

Some general information can be found on Wikipedia and it is clear that elections financing affects the elections:

Correct handling of political finance impacts a country's ability to effectively maintain free and fair elections, effective governance, democratic government and regulation of corruption.

Also, a study made by Magnus Öhman and Hani Zainulbhai came to these conclusions:

  • Money is necessary for democratic politics, and political parties must have access to funds to play their part in the political process. Regulation must not curb healthy competition.
  • Money is never an unproblematic part of the political system, and regulation is desirable.
  • The context and political culture must be taken into account when devising strategies for controlling money in politics.
  • Effective regulation and disclosure can help to control adverse effects of the role of money in politics, but only if well conceived and implemented.
  • Effective oversight depends on activities in interaction by several stakeholders (such as regulators, civil society and the media) and based on transparency.

No explicit mention of amount limitations, but it can be deducted from the emphasized text.

According to the same Wikipedia article, electoral campaigns are partially sported by the State:

In some electoral systems, candidates who win an election or secure a minimum number of ballots are allowed to apply for a rebate to the government. The candidate submits an audited report of the campaign expenses and the government issues a rebate to the candidate, subject to some caps such as the number of votes cast for the candidate or a blanket cap

Of course, any rebate is regulated.

Actual example: Romania has quite strict laws when it comes to political parties and electoral campaign financing, as specified here.

  • strict recording of all donations

[...] ways of recording and format, bookkeeping and publicity of donations, contributions, loans and revenues and expenditures of political parties ­ according to the law, all sources of income of political parties are registered and highlighted in the accounting records of political parties.

  • no cash for large amounts

money donations whose value exceed 10 gross wages will be made only through bank accounts, and this limit is an annual one

and many other regulations on how the money can be spent

Also, according to this article:

the candidates can no longer use propaganda materials such as branded pens, hats, mugs, and buckets, which they used to hand over to potential voters, especially in the rural areas.

For last general elections (December 2016), a candidate for a seat in the Parliament could spent a maximum of 24000 Euros (source, Romanian)

However, some speculate that many campaign related activities were indirectly financed.

Noticeable effects in Romania

These are personally observed effects. I could not find any reliable source to argue about this subject, but I have followed the whole campaign and the outcome.

  • much less electoral banners, as they are quite expensive
  • less TV electoral shows
  • next to nothing electoral concerts
  • much more online publicity though social media accounts, ads etc. which are more cost effective than traditional
  • a slight decrease in vote turnout (some 2% difference from 2012 general elections)
  • no actual change in the outcome (the same parties in power)

So, shortly put: less noise, quite the same results. While regulating the financing of the election has some benefits, I think there are many other factors that influence the outcome of the elections.

  • how much was the difference in net worth of elected candidates after and before the regulation? – akm Mar 4 '17 at 20:03
  • "the same parties in power". are elected candidates of parties in power more or less same as before? – akm Mar 4 '17 at 20:08
  • The latest regulation put the threshold to a value that is about a half of the one above (the one used for European Parliament elections). I cannot find/rembember when the first regulation was introduced. – Alexei Mar 4 '17 at 20:11
  • Many of the candidates are still in power. Only a few which are investigated for corruption were removed from the party list (one voter indicates a list of candidates proposed by a party / an independent candidate). Also, no independent candidate managed to enter the Parliament. – Alexei Mar 4 '17 at 20:13

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