Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Election funding: broadcast limits

Last week, I took a closer look at the Coalition for Open Government's proposals for election funding reform, and expressed particular concern about their proposal that "the unfair election broadcasting rules should be abolished". Now the Coalition have responded on their new blog, and clarified their position. After a strong argument about the unfairness of the present system (and I agree with them - it stinks), they go on to lay out their proposed solution:

  • Take the public money spent on the broadcasting allocation and use it as the basis for direct public funding of the parties – using a much fairer and more transparent allocation system than present (we’ll get to this in a later post)
  • Allow every party to spend the same on election expenses and broadcasting advertising as everyone else – using their public funds, or their own fundraising.

This is a position I wholeheartedly agree with. It would remove much of the unfairness of the current system and allow parties to compete fairly, while preventing an escalating arms race with consequent demands on fund-raising and influence for donors. The question is whether the major parties can be forced to agree to it, or whether they will insist on protecting themselves at the expense of our democracy.