In most, if not all countries, the rules regulating politicians and political parties are made by those very same politicians and political parties. In such cases, politicians tend to give themselves extra benefits over other citizens and organizations.

As these "perks" are beneficial to politicians as a group, I understand that there is little incentive for them to remove or even reduce them. I see a conflict of interest between the interests of the political class and society as a whole.

Have democracies attempted to regulate these? How?

Examples of some questionable perks in Spain:

  • Lack of control over the assistance to Congress sessions despite it being compulsory 1
  • Political parties are exempt from paying the added value tax for some operations2
  • I agree that "very high salaries" is arguable. I will remove it from the examples.
    – noe
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 14:00
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    In my examples, I included things that (I think) cannot be counted as rewards of the talent, but just unjustified benefits, like tax exemptions on political parties and lack of control over assistance to sessions (with evident abuse as result), so I understand the question is relevant at least in those cases.
    – noe
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 14:07
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    Sorry, but Stack Exchange isn't really a good platform for brainstorming questions like this. Our primary focus is to explain politics. Coming up with our own solutions to political problems isn't in our scope.
    – Philipp
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 14:47
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    Would it be better to have underpaid officials who are more open to bribes because they need the money?
    – Joe W
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 15:58
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    While you removed the points about salary from your question I felt it was an important point to bring up as that is related to things such as being bribed.
    – Joe W
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 16:48

1 Answer 1


In the end, it is generally accepted that the legislature (and not the executive) should have the power of the purse. Keeping their own expenses out of it is theoretically difficult.

  • One option would be to require that salary increases, etc., only take effect after the next election. But that would mean a big jump every couple of years, rather than a measured annual increase.
  • Another option would be to tie some of the compensation/perks of legislators to those of senior civil service employees. Legislators could still be tempted to boost those salaries, but it gets harder to do that out of sync with the general wage developments.
  • I'm pretty sure that keeping foreign spyware out of a hundred different smartphone models costs much more than making sure that everybody has the standard model.

But in the end, those payments are trifling compared to a CEO with far less responsibility.

  • Reading some stories about the 3rd point, I doubt there's any systematic effort. Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 16:03
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    @Fizz, there are countries where an effort is made. (And sometimes leaders then take private phones to get around document laws ...)
    – o.m.
    Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 16:19
  • The first bullet seems fallacious. Surely a legislature could mandate annual increases by some fixed percentage, or based on inflation, or some other economic metrics. Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 16:32
  • @JoelHarmon, that would mean either the current parliament does decide on their own next-year increase, if only by not adjusting the formula, or that the formula is fixed for the entire term. I haven't heard of suggestions like that, while I seem to recall suggestions that compensation increases should only come for the next parliament.
    – o.m.
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 19:27

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