Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Election funding: D-day

After a marathon two-week committee stage and an attempted filibuster by National, the Electoral Finance Bill will finally receive its third reading today. I am looking forward to its passage. While National has tried to spin the bill as an attack on democracy, it is the complete opposite: it will in fact protect our democracy from the corrupting influence of money. When the bill becomes law, the rich will find it a lot harder to buy elections. The loophole exposed last election - of using third party campaigns to circumvent party spending limits - will have been plugged, and in addition donations to political parties will be subject to a far stricter transparency regime in the past. The rich will no longer be able to buy policy from parties while keeping their identities secret; the laundering of donations will be outlawed, and breaching the anonyminity of donations processed by the Electoral Commission will be a crime. Together, these measures will preserve our political equality, and ensure that our parties are responsive to the people, rather than shadowy figures with large chequebooks - things all true democrats should welcome.