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Belgium

In law
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In practice
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In law, Belgium provides some direct public funding for parties, though no indirect funding is available. Non-financial resources, by and large, are not abused during election campaigns. Spending during campaigns is limited, as are some forms of contribution, but loopholes exist, including a lack of restrictions on foreign donations and the absence of requirements to mandate the reporting of loans. Violations of the legal regulations pertaining to donations and spending are rare in Belgium. Reporting requirements are relatively sparse: in law, parties must report annually and after elections, while candidates are required to submit only post-election financial reports. In practice, these reports tend to contain only a partially itemized list of donors and the amounts they contribute. Accessing the financial information of political actors is difficult, as reports are only made available to the public for a 15 day period after the conclusion of elections. Further complicating matters is the fact that the information is not accessible in a machine readable format. Despite these issues, few violations of the law occurred during the May 2014 elections in Belgium. The independent activities of third party actors are not regulated by Belgian law, but such organizations have been largely absent to date, with the exception of one organization active during the local elections of 2012. A legislative committee, the Control Commission, is in charge of monitoring and enforcing political finance. As part of the legislature, it cannot be considered independent. Nevertheless, the Commission does have the legal authority to withhold public subsidies from parties it deems in violation of the law, though it rarely does so in practice. Where individual candidates are concerned, the Commission can only refer potential violators to the court system, from whom little information about sanctions is available. The Commission's lack of formal independence, and its weak powers, are seen as impediments to effective enforcement of political finance laws.

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    Direct and Indirect Public Funding

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      Direct Public Funding
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        1
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        MODERATE
        In law, there is direct public funding for electoral campaigns.More about indicator

        For individual candidates, there is no such law. They are not allocated any direct public funding.

        Political parties, on the other hand, do receive direct public funding. According to article 15 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, "the Chamber of Representatives shall grant a subsidy (literally: donation) per political party that is represented by at least one member of parliament in the Chamber of Representatives". It should be noted here that this subsidy is provided on an annual basis and is not earmarked. There are no restrictions in the law on the use of this annual subsidy and there is no specific public funding for electoral campaigns.

        Prior to the elections of May 25, 2014, this article stated that "the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate, each on their own behalf, shall grant a subsidy (literally: donation) per political party that is represented by at least one directly elected member of parliament in one of the Chambers".

        In the context of the sixth reform of the state in Belgium, the Senate was reformed between 2012 and 2014. The members of the Senate would no longer be directly elected by the electorate. As a consequence, the parties' subsidy would automatically decrease, as it was based on the number of votes a party (and its candidates) won in the most recent elections for the Chamber and the Senate. Therefore, the party funding rules were amended in January 2014: the sum a party receives per vote in the most recent Chamber elections was doubled, in order to compensate for the subsidies otherwise lost.

        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. Both the Flemish and the Walloon Parliaments allocate subsidies of the same kind (but different amounts) to political parties. But parties need to have at least 5 seats in the assembly to receive such a subsidy.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where there is direct public funding for both political parties and individual candidates to campaign. A 100 also applies where only one of the two actors can be elected and, therefore, only one is entitled to direct public funding.

        A MODERATE score is earned where per law only one of the two actors (either political parties or individual candidates) is allocated direct public funding to campaign, even though both can be elected.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 15. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434

        J. Smulders, J. Faniel, B. Maddens, Verkiezingen, partijen en overheidsfinanciering: de financiële gevolgen van de verkiezingen van 25 mei 2014 (Elections, parties and public funding: the financial impact of the elections of May 25, 2014), Tijdschrift voor Bestuurswetenschappen en Publiekrecht, 7, 2014.

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        2
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        MODERATE
        In law, there is a transparent and equitable mechanism to determine direct public funding for electoral campaigns.More about indicator

        As noted in #1, there is an annual subsidy for parties that is not restricted from use in campaigns, but there is no public funding for candidates' campaigns.

        There are clearly defined eligibility criteria to determine whether a political party is eligible for direct public funding. According to article 15 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, public funding will only be provided to a political party "that is represented by at least one member of parliament in the Chamber of Representatives". Next to that, article 15bis states that "in order to benefit from the subsidy specified in article 15, each party shall include in its statutes or program a stipulation according to which the party commits itself to observe in its own political action and to make its different components and elected representatives observe at least the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of November 4, 1950, as ratified by the law of May 13, 1955 and amended by the additional protocols in force in Belgium".

        The mechanism to determine direct public funding is transparent and equitable. It is established in article 16 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the federal Chambers elections, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, thus being available to public. This article stipulates that "the total annual subsidy assigned to each political party, complying with the provisions of articles 15 and 15bis, is composed of the following sums: (1) A lump sum of 125,000 euro (160,000 US Dollar). This sum will be raised with 50,000 euro (64,000 US Dollar) if at least one member in the Senate belongs to the same party. (2) An additional sum of 2.50 euro (3.20 US Dollar) per valid vote, being list vote or personal vote, casted on the candidate lists acknowledged by the political party during the last legislative election of the Chamber of Representatives. This sum will be raised with 1.00 euro (1.28 US Dollar) per valid vote for the election of the Chamber of Representatives if at least one member in the Senate belongs to the same party". Article 18 of the same law adds that all these sums are linked to the consumer price index. This mechanism can be considered as equitable, since the subsidy is based on the principle of equality (the lump sum part) as well as on the principle of proportionality (the additional part, per vote).

        Prior to the elections of May 25, 2014, the annual subsidy was "composed of the following sums: (1) A lump sum of 125,000 euro (160,000 US Dollar). (2) An additional sum of 1.25 euro (1.60 US Dollar) per valid vote, being list vote or personal vote, cast on the candidate lists acknowledged by the political party during the last legislative election of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate".

        It should be noted here that this public subsidy is provided on an annual basis and is not earmarked. There are no restrictions in the law on the use of this annual subsidy and there is no specific public funding for electoral campaigns.


        Peer Reviewer comment: Agree. The systems used by the Flemish and the Walloon Parliaments are similar to that in use at the federal level by the Chamber of Representatives.

        Currently, the annual amount per party with at least 5 seats at the Flemish Parliament is composed of the following sums: (1) A lump sum of 80,000 euro (102,000 US Dollar). (2) An additional sum of 1.90 euro (2.40 US Dollar) per valid vote, being list vote or personal vote, casted on the candidate lists acknowledged by the political party during the last legislative election of the Flemish Parliament. All these sums are linked to the consumer price index.

        Currently, the annual amount per party with at least 5 seats at the Walloon Parliament is composed of the following sums: (1) A lump sum of 67,000 euro (85,000 US Dollar). (2) An additional sum of 2.50 euro (3.20 US Dollar) per valid vote, being list vote or personal vote, casted on the candidate lists acknowledged by the political party during the last legislative election of the Walloon Parliament. All these sums are linked to the consumer price index.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) direct public funding for political parties and individual candidates' electoral campaigns is allocated through a clearly defined calculation mechanism that is transparent and equitable, and 2) there are clearly defined eligibility criteria.

        A MODERATE score is earned where direct public funding for political party and individual candidates' electoral campaigns is allocated through a clearly defined calculation mechanism that is transparent and equitable, but eligibility criteria are not clearly defined.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Articles 15, 15bis, 16 and 18. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434

        Reviewer's sources:

        Reglement van het Vlaams Parlement (Regulations of the Flemish Parliament), art. 8, 2014, http://docs.vlaamsparlement.be/docs/stukken/2014/g7-1.pdf.

        Règlement du Parlement wallon (Regulations of the Walloon Parliament), art. 28, 2010, http://nautilus.parlement-wallon.be/archives/documentation/roi.pdf.

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        75
        In practice, to what extent is the mechanism to determine direct public funding for electoral campaigns transparent, equitable and consistently applied?More about indicator

        As previously explained, no public funding is available for individual/independent candidates in Belgium.

        On the basis of (1) the formula and the criteria for determining annual funding allocations as mentioned in the law, (2) the results for the most recent elections, which are publicly available online, and (3) the consumer price index in force, it is possible to calculate the size of the political parties' subsidies for the last financial year or for the coming months (e.g. J. Faniel, J. Smulders & B. Maddens, 2014; J. Smulders & B. Maddens, 2014). These numbers can then be compared to the official ones, which can be found in the publicly available annual accounts of the political parties. When doing this exercise for the most recent financial year, 2013, and for all political parties, it is clear that the subsidies disbursed to the parties were calculated on the basis of the legal framework. Thus, while parliamentary parties receive an annual subsidy based on the formula in the law, parties without at least one representative in the federal Parliament are not publicly funded (Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, 53 3576/001-002; E. Pironet, 2014).

        Next to that, the budget documents of the Chamber of representatives and the Senate explicitly show that the administrations of both assemblies base themselves on the legal formula as well to predict the size of the parties' subsidies for making up the budget the coming financial year. In the Chamber's budget document for 2014, for instance, it is noted that "for the expenses concerning the subsidies to the political parties, the sums result from the application of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the federal Chambers elections, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties" (Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, 53 3244/001). The Senate's budget document for 2014 states, under the heading of 'Subsidy for the public funding of political parties', that "in implementation of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the federal Chambers elections, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, a sum of 4,199,000 euro is provided" (Parl. Doc. Senate, 5-2357/1). The sums mentioned in these documents can then again be compared to the parties' annual accounts.

        All these elements, and especially the fact that the sums mentioned in the parties' annual accounts equal the ones in the Parliament's budget documents and the ones based on the researcher's own calculations, confirm that, in practice, the mechanism to determine direct public funding for political parties can be considered as transparent (since all information to calculate the size of the subsidies is publicly available), equitable (since there is an objective formula, based on equality as well as proportionality) and consistently applied (since this is the case for all political parties fulfilling the conditions).

        However, party finance expert Bart Maddens adds to this that an additional form of public funding of the parties should be considered, although it is rather indirect. He notes that the party groups in the federal Parliament receive a subsidy as well: they receive a lump sum per member of the group, "for facilitating and improving the work of the members of parliament and the party group". Although this subsidy should only be used to facilitate the party group's work, it is in practice often passed on to the central party. In this way, this can be considered as an indirect form of public funding, which the party could use for the electoral campaign. The rules on this indirect form of public funding are, however, not publicly available, since they are only mentioned in the regulations of the Bureau of the Chamber, which are not made public. Therefore, Maddens states that the score for this indicator should be slightly nuanced.

        The central party can be considered as the political party as such, participating in elections, expressing ideas and opinions, organizing its representatives and mainting its overall organization. The party group is only one specific aspect of the political party and is composed of parliamentary representatives. In parliament, representatives of one party (or in some cases: of two parties) declare that they want to be considered as one group. This is important, since the subsidy for these party groups is calculated on the basis of the number of representatives in the group. Thus, one political party can have several party groups (in the several parliaments).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) electoral campaigns allocations are always defined through a clearly defined transparent and equitable calculation mechanism, and 2) the defined eligibility criteria are applied consistently.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) electoral campaign allocations are usually defined through a clearly defined transparent and equitable calculation mechanism but exceptions exist, or 2) the eligibility criteria are usually applied but exceptions exist.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) political campaign allocations are rarely or never defined through a clearly defined transparent and equitable calculation mechanism, or 2) the defined eligibility criteria are rarely applied.

        Sources

        J. Faniel, J. Smulders & B. Maddens, Élections, partis et financement public : les retombées financières du scrutin du 25 mai 2014 (Elections, parties and public funding : the financial impact of the elections of May 25, 2014), Les @nalyses du CRISP en ligne, Brussels: CRISP, 2014, http://www.crisp.be/2014/06/elections-partis-et-financement-public-les-retombees-financieres-du-scrutin-du-25-mai-2014.

        J. Smulders & B. Maddens, De financiële gevolgen van de verkiezingsuitslag van 25 mei 2014 voor de Vlaamse politieke partijen (The financial consequences of the electoral result of May 25, 2014 for the Flemish political parties), Leuven: KU Leuven Instituut voor de Overheid, 2014, http://soc.kuleuven.be/io/verkiezingen2014/files/financiele-winst-verlies-voor-politieke-partijen.

        E. Pironet, Uw stem is geld waard (Your vote is worth money), Knack, March 26, 2014, http://soc.kuleuven.be/io/verkiezingen2014/pers/uw-stem-is-geld-waard.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 53 3576/001-002, April 25, 2014, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=53&dossierID=3576.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 53 3244/001, December 13, 2013, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=/site/wwwcfm/flwb/flwbn.cfm?&legislat=53&dossierID=3244.

        Parl. Doc. Senate, Doc. 5-2357/1, December 5, 2013, http://www.senate.be/www/?MIval=/publications/viewPub.html&COLL=S&LEG=5&NR=2357&VOLGNR=1.

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

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        0
        In practice, to what extent does the entity in charge of public funding make disbursement information publicly available?More about indicator

        Disbursement information is made publicly available, but not directly by the entity in charge of public funding (being the federal Parliament), nor as a separate document. This information can only be derived from the political parties' annual accounts, published every year as part of a parliamentary document. Thus, the federal Parliament only publishes the disbursement information in an indirect manner, via the political parties and their accounts.

        These annual accounts give a detailed overview of the public subsidies paid out by each assembly to each party separately, although information on the specific dates of the pay out is not published. Moreover, the accounts can only be made public after closing the financial year and after being reviewed by the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties. Knowing that the public subsidy of the political parties is paid out in monthly parts by the federal Parliament, there is therefore no structural and systematic publication of this information, since the accounts are published on an annual basis.

        As a consequence, the parties' annual accounts of the financial year 2013, for instance, were only online available as a parliamentary document at the end of May 2014 (Parl. Doc. Chamber of Representatives, 53 3576/001-002). This means that any information on the subsidies paid out to the parties in 2013 was only publicly available after more than four months after the closure of the financial year.

        Therefore, professor Bart Maddens states that for citizens it is much easier to rely on media publications to gather information on the public funding of political parties. Most of these media publications are based on academic research (e.g. Bauwens, Van Driessche, Peters, 2014; Berns, 2014; Pironet, 2014), although some also rely on the official accounts (e.g. De Caevel, 2013; Blomme, 2013, 2014). It should be noted, however, that the information in these media publications is rather general and only seldom gives a detailed overview of the subsidies paid out to the parties by each of the assemblies in Belgium.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) complete information on the disbursements is published less than a month after disbursement, and 2) the information is available on the Internet for free or in hard copy at photocopying cost.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) the information published is incomplete or published more than two months after disbursement, or 2) obtaining the information costs more than photocopying.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) disbursement information is published more than four months after disbursement, or 2) no disbursement information is published or released upon request.

        Sources

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, 53 3576/001-002, April 25, 2014, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=53&dossierID=3576.

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        C. De Caevel, Le trésor de campagne des partis s'élève à 24,4 millions d'euros (The parties' treasuries for campaigning amount up to 24.4 million euros), L'Echo, May 11, 2013, http://www.lecho.be/r/t/1/id/9192935.

        P. Blomme, Financieel rampjaar voor Vlaams Belang en Open VLD (Financial year of disaster for Vlaams Belang and Open VLD), De Tijd, May 11, 2013.

        P. Blomme, Politieke partijen hebben oorlogskas van 123 miljoen euro (Political parties have a war chest of 123 million euros), De Tijd, May 14, 2014.

        D. Bauwens, C. Van Driessche, R. Peters, Waar komt het geld van de partijen vandaan? (Where does the money of the parties come from?), De Redactie, March 5, 2014, http://deredactie.be/cm/vrtnieuws/VK14-formatie/Fact%2BCheck/2.32360?eid=1.1900452.

        E. Pironet, Uw stem is geld waard (Your vote is worth money), Knack, March 26, 2014, http://soc.kuleuven.be/io/verkiezingen2014/pers/uw-stem-is-geld-waard.

        D. Berns, Financement: Ecolo perd 2,2 millions à cause des élections (Funding: Ecolo loses 2.2 million as a consequence of the elections), Le Soir, June 10, 2014, http://www.lesoir.be/567934/article/actualite/belgique/elections-2014/2014-06-10/financement-ecolo-perd-22-millions-cause-des-elections.

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      Indirect Public Funding
      More about category
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        5
        Score
        NO
        In law, use of state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates is prohibited.More about indicator

        The use of some specific state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates is prohibited. However, the rules concerning these resources are not incorporated in law, but only in some regulatory documents. Thus no such law exists. Moreover, the legal value of these documents is rather limited in comparison with laws and legal rules Therefore, this indicator is scored 0.

        First of all, the party groups in the Chamber of representatives receive a public subsidy. But according to article 2 of the regulation concerning the subsidies for the operational costs of the political groups (which is an internal document of the Chamber's bureau), this subsidy can only be used "for facilitating and improving the work of the members of parliament, the party groups or the services of the party that support them, to the exclusion of all the costs for electoral campaigns and of the purchase of a building for the secretariat of a party group". Therefore, the parties are not allowed to use these public funds freely and are even explicitly forbidden to use it for electoral campaigns.

        Secondly, although there are no specific rules or articles in the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties concerning the use of state resources, a document with comments and recommendations of the Control Commission regarding the interpretation of this law does address this issue (Doc. Parl. Chamber of representatives, 51 3115/001). This document was first published in 2007, in the run-up to the federal elections of that year. However, this document was used once more in the run-up to the elections of 2010 and 2014. As a comment on article 4 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, it is clearly stated that "the parties, lists and candidates cannot run an electoral campaign with the cooperation of a minister's personal staff, institutions and governments at the federal level or at the level of communities, regions, provinces or municipalities, or with the cooperation of any public institution no election campaign or public service". Although this comment only gives an interpretation of the law and is as such not legally binding, it implicitly states that parties and candidates cannot use public personnel resources for their campaign.

        Finally, articles 33 to 43 of the royal decree on the regulation of the postal service stipulate that members of the federal Parliament can send franked letters. However, this is only possible for administrative post and mainly to public services, apart from some exceptions specifically mentioned in this decree. Most importantly, this decree implicitly prohibits sending franked letters in the context of an electoral campaign.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where there is an explicit ban on the use of state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates. A YES is also earned where there are clearly defined exceptions, which are accessible to all actors equally.

        A MODERATE score is earned where an explicit ban exists but it only applies to one of the two actors, even though both can be elected. A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        A NO score is also earned where the law exists, but allows discretionary exceptions.

        Sources

        Reglementering betreffende de toelagen voor de werkingskosten van de politieke fracties (Regulation concerning the subsidies for the operational costs of the political groups), Article 2, Service of general affairs, finance and administration of the Chamber of representatives, 2014.

        Doc. Parl. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 51 3115/001, April 30, 2007, http://www.verkiezingen.fgov.be/fileadmin/userupload/Elections2014/FR/Candidat/enpratique/depenses/51K3115001_Vademecum.pdf.

        Koninklijk besluit van 27 april 2007 houdende reglementering van de postdienst (Royal Decree of April 27, 2007 on the regulation of the postal service), Articles 33 to 43, 2007, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/pdf_sections/publications/reglement/Portvrijdom%20-%20a%20kb%2027%20april%202007%20NTC.pdf.

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        6
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        75
        In practice, to what extent are no state resources used in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates' electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        In the run-up to the elections of May 25, 2014, there has only been one reported case where there might have been an inappropriate use of state resources in favor of an individual candidate. In February 2014, the magazine Le Vif/l'Express revealed that in October and November 2013, Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet had recruited eight new personal staff members and political advisers. This, of course, is not illegal. However, the magazine stated that all these staff members "come from Brussels and are of Moroccan, Turkish or Congolese origin" and "it was reported on good authority that these staff members were recruited only for preparing Joëlle Milquet's electoral campaign in the municipalities of Brussels, where there is a large immigrant population". Moreover, they would be "particularly responsible for organizing or identifying, from February until May, events where the candidate Milquet could meet as many potential voters as possible of Moroccan, Turkish, Congolese or other origin" (Denoël, 2014).

        Interior Minister Milquet, on her turn, denied that there had been an inappropriate use of these new personal staff members and political advisers: "The Minister assures that these recruitments were due to replacements of persons who have left for various reasons" (Denoël, 2014). Nevertheless, in June 2014 it was revealed in a news broadcast of VTM Nieuws that an investigation into this case had been set up by the Brussels public prosecutor-general. However, to ensure the confidentiality of the investigation, more information was not (yet) available.

        Although no final judgment has been passed yet at this moment (September 2014), this case clearly shows that there might have been an inappropriate use of state resources in favor of an individual candidate. According to party finance experts Bart Maddens and Jean Faniel, however, this is rather exceptional. Most of the time, political parties and candidates are very cautious and prudent during the electoral campaign, in order not to break the law. If candidates mobilize their personal staff members, they will only do this after the office hours, when these staff members are free to help.

        Next to this example, it should be mentioned that, although the public subsidy to political party groups in Parliament should only be used to facilitate the party group's work, it is in practice often passed on to the central party. In this way, professor Bart Maddens argues that this can be considered as an indirect form of public funding, which the party could use (and in fact uses) for the electoral campaign.

        To conclude, secretary of the Control Commission Paul Muls states that there is a lack of clarity concerning the use of franked letters. Since there are no strict rules in the law on this issue, it is often not clear for candidates if they are allowed to send franked letters in the context of their electoral campaign. Although this is implicitly prohibited by the royal decree on the regulation of the postal service, there is no in-depth control concerning these letters.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where there is no evidence of authorities using state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates. A 100 is also earned where there are clearly defined exceptions and are equally accessible to all actors.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) documented evidence indicates occasional use of state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates, or 2) clearly defined exceptions are not equally accessible to all actors.

        A 0 score is earned where documented evidence indicates regular use of state resources in favor of or against certain political parties and individual candidates.

        Sources

        T. Denoël, Les étranges collaborateurs de Milquet (The strange staff members of Milquet), Le Vif/l'Express, February 6, 2014, http://www.levif.be/actualite/belgique/les-etranges-collaborateurs-de-milquet/article-normal-63483.html.

        Parket onderzoekt campagne Milquet (Public prosecutor investigates Milquet's campaign), VTM Nieuws, June 27, 2014, http://nieuws.vtm.be/binnenland/98583-parket-onderzoekt-campagne-milquet.

        “Kabinet Milquet wist van niets” ("Milquet's personal staff knew nothing"), VTM Nieuws, June 27, 2014, http://nieuws.vtm.be/binnenland/98585-kabinet-milquet-wist-van-niets.

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

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        7
        Score
        NO
        In law, political parties and individual candidates have free or subsidized access to equitable air time for electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        In law, there are hardly any rules concerning free or subsidized air time for political parties and individual candidates during the electoral campaign period. In the law on party finance, this topic is not mentioned. Only article 18 of the law guaranteeing the protection of ideological and philosophical movements touches on this issue: "Any ideological or philosophical movement represented in a Cultural Council [i.e. the later parliaments of the Communities] must have access to the resources for the expression of opinions which depend on the authorities in the Community involved." However, culture is a competence of the Communities in Belgium. Therefore, further decisions relating to audiovisual media are taken at the level of the Communities.

        In the French Speaking Community, access to air time during the electoral campaign period is managed by the agreement concerning the management of the Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF - the public broadcasting organization of theFrench Speaking Community), concluded between the RTBF and the French Speaking Community. Article 23 of this agreement stipulates that "as part of its public service missions, the RTBF diffuses and offers on demand electoral programs: in the context of European, federal, community and regional, provincial and municipal elections, the RTBF diffuses, on terms agreed by its board of directors, a specific information disposition, in order that citizens understand the main issues in the elections, including radio, television and online on the internet and via all other services related to the information society it deems relevant, including [...] free speech forums granted to democratic formations involved". In very general terms and long-winded wordings, this article grants free air time to political parties during the electoral campaign period. However, any specific rules concerning the allocation of this free air time are not included in the agreement, nor in any law or community decree. Moreover, this article only mentions democratic formations (i.e. political parties), which means that individual candidates do not have access to free or subsidized air time.

        In the Flemish Community, on the other hand, no such regulation exists (anymore). Since the introduction of the new decree concerning radio broadcasting and television in 2009, political parties no longer have free access to air time during the electoral campaign period.


        Peer Reviewer comment: Disagree.
        The answer of the researcher is completely correct. But, on the same basis, I would rather give a slightly higher score, since there is a legal basis in one part of the country (the French Speaking Community).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) free or subsidized access to air time for electoral campaigns is granted in a transparent, equitable way, and 2) there are clearly defined eligibility criteria.

        A MODERATE score is earned where free or subsidized access to air time for electoral campaigns is granted in a transparent, equitable way, but eligibility criteria are not clearly defined.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law guaranteeing the protection of ideological and philosophical movements, article 18, 1973, http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&cn=1973071630&table_name=wet.

        Agreement concerning the management of the Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF - the public broadcasting organization of the French Community), concluded between the RTBF and the French Community, article 23, 2012, http://csa.be/system/documentsfiles/1703/original/GVT20121226RTBFcontratgestion.pdf?1359040419.

        SARC - Sectorraad Media, Advies aangaande betaalde boodschappen van politieke partijen (Advice concerning political parties' paid messages), 2010, http://www.cjsm.vlaanderen.be/raadcjsm/SRmedia/adviezen/20100604MEDadviesbetaaldeboodschappenpolitieke_partijen.pdf.

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        8
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        25
        In practice, to what extent is free or subsidized access to air time provided in a transparent, equitable way to political parties and individual candidates for electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        Culture is a competence of the Communities in Belgium. Therefore, regulations concerning free or subsidized access to air time differ between the Flemish and the French Speaking Community (as is also made clear in indicator 7).

        In the context of the most recent federal elections of May 25, 2014, free access to air time for the French-speaking political parties was regulated by the Electoral disposition of the RTBF for the regional, federal and European elections of Sunday, May 25, 2014. According to this document, eleven 'electoral tribunes' (in French: tribunes électorales, literally 'electoral forums') of each three minutes at most were available on both television and radio. In other words, eleven time slots of three minutes could be claimed by the political parties. More precisely, these tribunes were distributed among the parties with a parliamentary representation during the last term. Moreover, the distribution of these tribunes was based on the principle of proportionality, since the larger parties could claim more tribunes: the Parti Socialiste got four tribunes, the Mouvement Réformateur got three and Écolo and the Centre Démocrate Humaniste both got two tribunes. Parties without a parliamentary representation, on the other hand, could also have free access to television and radio, but they could claim only one tribune of two minutes at most.

        Simon-Pierre De Coster, legal director of RTBF, states that all four parties with a parliamentary representation during the last term made use of their electoral tribunes. Parties without a parliamentary representation, on the other hand, only rarely claim free air time. In the run-up to the elections of May 25, 2014, the Fédéralistes Démocrates Francophones have done this, as well as the Workers' Party of Belgium. Other parties (often rather small parties) did not use this possibility.

        This overview makes clear that, in the French Speaking Community, free access to air time on television and radio is provided in a rather transparent way (since the distribution of the air time among the parties is laid down in a publicly available document) and in an equitable way (since the distribution is based on the principle of proportionality). Moreover, the eligibility criteria are clearly defined (since there is a clear difference between parties with and without a parliamentary representation) and applied consistently (since all parties could claim their free air time without being favoured or handicapped). However, there is no clear formula or mechanism established in law that is used to distribute free air time minutes among political parties. It is only mentioned in the Electoral disposition of the RTBF how many tribunes each party can claim, based on their electoral strength. Indeed, the literal text in the Electoral disposition of the RTBF is as follows: "There will be 11 electoral tribunes and they will last 3'00'' maximum each. The distribution of electoral tribunes [both on televions and radio] is: PS: four tribunes; MR: 3 tribunes; Ecolo: 2 tribunes and CDH: 2 tribunes."

        This means that there is, de facto, a proportional distribution of the 11 electoral tribunes. However, there is no formula or mechanism included in the Electoral disposition; only the resulting amounts are mentioned.

        It is important to note that the score for this indicator mainly refers to the situation in the French Speaking Community. In the Flemish Community, there are no regulations providing political parties or individual candidates with free or subsidized access to air time. The Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroeporganisatie (VRT - the public broadcasting organization of the Flemish Community) confirms that, in practice as well, no free or subsidized air time is reserved for parties or candidates. It is important to keep in mind that Flemish parties on the one hand and French-speaking parties on the other hand are subject to different regulations, since the competence of media is situated at the level of the Communities in Belgium.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) free or subsidized access to media advertising is always provided in a transparent and equitable way, and 2) the defined eligibility criteria are applied consistently.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) free or subsidized access to media advertising is usually provided in a transparent and equitable way, but exceptions exist, or 2) the eligibility criteria are not always applied.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) there's rarely free or subsidized access to air time for political campaign, and 2) access exists but is not provided in a transparent, equitable way.

        Sources

        Dispositif électoral de la RTBF en vue des élections régionales, féderales et européennes du dimanche 25 mai 2014 (Electoral disposition of the RTBF for the regional, federal and European elections of Sunday, May 25, 2014), 2014, http://ds.static.rtbf.be/article/pdf/dispositif-electoral-2014-1391444771.pdf.

        Interview with Simon-Pierre De Coster, legal director of RTBF, September 22, 2014 (E-mail).

        Interview with an anonymous staff member of VRT Tot uw dienst (VRT At your service - the customer service of the Vlaamse Radio- en Televisieomroeporganisatie), September 23, 2014 (E-mail).

        The names of anonymous sources are known to Global Integrity and Global Integrity has agreed not to disclose them.

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    Contribution and Expenditure Restrictions

    More about category
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    53
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      General Rules on Electoral Campaign Contributions
      More about category
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        9
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        NO
        In law, cash contributions are banned.More about indicator

        No such law exists at this moment.

        However, on January 1, 2015, article 16bis of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the federal Chambers elections, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties will be changed. From then onwards, this article will stipulate that "every contribution of 125 euro (160 US Dollar) or more should be electronically transferred by bank transfer, an ongoing payment order or a bank or credit card. The total amount of contributions in cash from one person cannot exceed 125 euro (160 US Dollar)." Thus, cash contributions (in general, so not only during the electoral campaign) will be restricted.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where cash contributions are banned and all financial contributions must be made via the banking system.

        A MODERATE score is earned where cash contributions are allowed up to a maximum limit, regardless of the limit.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 16bis. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434

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        10
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        MODERATE
        In law, there is a ban on anonymous contributions.More about indicator

        Article 16bis of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties stipulates that "the identity of natural persons making contributions, in any form, of 125 euros (160 US Dollar) and more to political parties and their components, lists, candidates and political representatives, shall annually be registered by the beneficiaries." This is the case for all contributions (so not only during the electoral campaign).

        In addition, article 16ter of the same law states that "at the end of each year, political parties and their components, as well as their political representatives, draw up, in receiving order, the statement specified in article 16bis with all donations of 125 euros (160 US Dollar) and more granted to them, irrespective of their form, during the last year. The statement shall include the name and surname of the individuals granting the contribution, the full address (street, number and municipality of the main residence), the nationality, the amount of each contribution, the date the contribution has been received and the total amount of all contributions received during the last year."

        Specifically concerning the electoral campaign, article 6 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties stipulates that if political parties have funded their electoral campaign (partly) by contributions, "they commit themselves to register the identity of the individuals making contributions, in order to fund the electoral campaign, of 125 euros (160 US Dollar) and more, to keep it confidential and to report it to the Control Commission within forty-five days after the date of the elections."

        Next to that, article 116 of the Electoral Code stipulates that if individual candidates have funded their electoral campaign (partly) by contributions, "they commit themselves to register the identity of the individuals making contributions, in order to fund the electoral campaign, of 125 euros (160 US Dollar) and more, to keep it confidential and to report it to the Control Commission within forty-five days after the date of the elections."

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where the law stipulates that anonymous contributions are banned.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the ban exists, but it applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates). A MODERATE score is also earned where small anonymous donations are allowed up to a maximum threshold equal to or less than the equivalent to US$300.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Articles 6, 16bis and 16ter. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434

        Electoral code. Article 116. 1894. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1894041230

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        YES
        In law, in-kind donations to political parties and individual candidates must be reported.More about indicator

        Concerning in-kind donations, article 16bis of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties stipulates that "performances granted freely or at a price inferior to the real cost by legal persons, natural persons or de facto associations are similar to donations, as well as opening credit lines without any repayment obligation. Performances invoiced by a political party or a candidate at a price clearly superior to the market cost are also considered as donations made by legal persons, natural persons or de facto associations." This article makes clear that in-kind donations to parties and candidates are considered as a specific form of contributions. Therefore, all the other rules concerning contributions also apply to these in-kind donations.

        In this context, 'performances' should be interpreted in the broadest sense of the term. It not only refers to (the value of) services delivered, but also to (the value of) goods sold/bought. If these services or goods are granted freely or at a price inferior to the real cost, they are considered as donations. Thus the term 'performances' actually is an umbrella term for all forms of in-kind donations. Consequentely, all other regulations concerning donations apply. For instance, the value of these 'performance' should be reported as well.

        In-kind donations should be reported, just like other donations. According to article 6 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties and article 116 of the Electoral code, political parties and individual candidates "commit themselves to report to the president of the head office of the constituency, with confirmation of receipt and within forty-five days after the elections, on their electoral expenses and the origin of the funds used [...] The report on the electoral expenses and the origin of the funds, as well as the confirmation of receipt are made up based on special forms set forth by the Minister of the Interior and published in time in the Belgian Official Gazette." In these special forms, published in the Annex to the Ministerial Decree of April 18, 2003, political parties and individual candidates are able to register the countervalue of in-kind donations (cf. indicator 28).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where all in-kind donations must be reported to the oversight authority.

        A MODERATE score is also earned if the requirement to report such information exists, but applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Articles 6 and 16bis. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434

        Electoral code. Article 116. 1894. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1894041230

        Ministerial Decree establishing the model of the report referred to in article 6 of the law of July 4, 1989 regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, and establishing the model of the declarations for the electoral expenses done by the political parties for electoral propaganda and the origin of the funds they use to cover these expenses and establishing the receipt of these declarations. 2003. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&cn=2003041830&table_name=wet.

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        12
        Score
        NO
        In law, loans to political parties and individual candidates must be reported.More about indicator

        No such law exists.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where all loans must be reported to the oversight authority.

        A MODERATE score is earned where loans must be reported, but the requirement applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        No such law exists.

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      Limits on Contributions and Expenditures during Electoral Campaign Periods
      More about category
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        13
        Score
        YES
        In law, contributions from individuals are limited to a maximum amount.More about indicator

        According to article 16bis of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, "political parties and their components, lists, candidates and political representatives may each receive an amount of maximum 500 euro (640 US Dollar), or its equivalent value, annually as a donation from one and the same individual. The donor may annually give a total amount not exceeding 2,000 euro (2,560 US Dollar), or the equivalent value of this amount, for donations to the benefit of political parties and their components, lists, candidates and political representatives."

        In other words, contributions from individuals are limited to 2,000 euro (2,560 US Dollar) per year. Moreover, only 500 euro (640 US Dollar) of this maximum sum can be given to one and the same party, party component, list, candidate or political representative. There are no specific rules for the electoral campaign.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) individuals may not contribute more than a maximum amount established by the law.

        A MODERATE score is earned where a maximum amount exists, but it applies only to contributions for one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates). A MODERATE score is also earned where individuals are forbidden from making any contribution.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 16bis. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434

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        MODERATE
        In law, contributions from corporations are limited to a maximum amount.More about indicator

        According to article 16bis of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, "only natural persons can make donations to political parties and their components, lists, candidates and political representatives. [...] donations from natural persons acting as intermediaries of legal persons or de facto associations are prohibited." This explicitly means that corporations are forbidden from making any contribution.

        It should be noted that from January 1, 2015, this article will become less stringent, although the rules concerning donations will not change. At that moment, a new article 16bis/1 will be included in the law, stating that "companies, de facto associations and legal persons can, by way of sponsorship, namely in exchange for publicity, make funds or products available to political parties and their components, lists, candidates and political representatives, provided that this is done according to the prevailing market prices. The identity of the companies, de facto associations and legal persons who sponsor political parties, their components, lists, candidates and political representatives, for 125 euro (160 US Dollar) or more, in any form whatsoever, is recorded annually." However, there are no regulations included in the law limiting the contributions from companies, de facto associations and legal persons from January 2015 onwards. On the other hand, it should be stressed that these contributions cannot be considered as donations, but as forms of sponsorship. This means that the companies, de facto associations or legal persons get publicity in exchange. Thus, they 'buy' publicity (contrary to donations, where you don't get anything in exchange).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) corporations may not contribute more than a maximum amount established by the law.

        A MODERATE score is earned where a maximum amount or ban exists, but it applies only to contributions for one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates). A MODERATE score is also earned where corporations are forbidden from making any contribution.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 16bis. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

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        15
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        NO
        In law, contributions from foreign sources are banned.More about indicator

        No such law exists.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where it is forbidden for political parties and individual candidates to receive contributions (financial or in-kind) from foreign sources.

        A MODERATE score is earned where: 1) the ban exists but it applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates), or 2) contributions from foreign sources are allowed to a maximum amount.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        No such law exists.

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        16
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        YES
        In law, contributions from third-party actors (unions, foundations, think tanks, political action committees, etc.) are limited to a maximum amount or banned.More about indicator

        According to article 16bis of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, "only natural persons can make donations to political parties and their components, lists, candidates and political representatives. [...] donations from natural persons acting as intermediaries of legal persons or de facto associations are prohibited." This explicitly means that third-party actors, being legal persons or de facto associations, are forbidden from making any contribution.

        It should be noted that from January 1, 2015, this article will become less stringent, although the rules concerning donations will not change. At that moment, a new article 16bis/1 will be included in the law, stating that "companies, de facto associations and legal persons can, by way of sponsorship, namely in exchange for publicity, make funds or products available to political parties and their components, lists, candidates and political representatives, provided that this is done according to the prevailing market prices. The identity of the companies, de facto associations and legal persons who sponsor political parties, their components, lists, candidates and political representatives, for 125 euro (160 US Dollar) or more, in any form whatsoever, is recorded annually." However, there are no regulations included in the law limiting the contributions from companies, de facto associations and legal persons from January 2015 onwards. On the other hand, it should be stressed that these contributions cannot be considered as donations, but as forms of sponsorship. This means that the companies, de facto associations or legal persons get publicity in exchange. Thus, they 'buy' publicity (contrary to donations, where you don't get anything in exchange).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) third-party actors may not contribute more than a maximum amount established by the law, or 2) are forbidden from making any contribution.

        A MODERATE score is earned where: 1) the maximum amount or ban exists only for the majority of third-party actors, but not all, or 2) the maximum amount or ban exists, but applies only to contributions for either political parties or individual candidates.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 16bis. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

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        YES
        In law, election campaign spending by political parties and individual candidates is limited to a maximum amount.More about indicator

        Electoral campaign spending by political parties and individual candidates is limited during the period of three months prior to the elections (or in the case of extraordinary elections, during the period starting from the day of the announcement of the elections in the Belgian Official Gazette). However, this period will be extended to four months from the next elections onwards.

        According to article 2 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, parties cannot spend more than 1,000,000 euro (1,275,000 US Dollar): "The total of the expenses and the financial obligations related to the electoral propaganda of the political parties on the federal level, on the constituency level and on the level of the electoral colleges for the elections of the Chamber of representatives shall not exceed the value of 1,000,000 euro."

        Concerning the individual candidates for the elections of the Chamber of representatives, there are three different categories of candidates: (1) The 'top positioned candidates': These are the first N candidates on top of the list in a constituency, where N equals the number of seats the list won in that constituency during the previous elections, plus one additional candidate to be appointed by the party. These candidates can spend 8,700 euro (11,100 US Dollar), increased by 0.035 euro (0.045 US Dollar) per voter registered during the previous elections for the Chamber of representatives in the constituency where the candidate is presented. Making this calculation, the top positioned candidates can spend between 15,507 euro (19,800 US Dollar) and 53,526 euro (68,200 US Dollar), depending on the constituency where they are presented (Federal Public Service of the Interior, 2014). (2) All other 'effective candidates' (i.e. candidates who can be elected directly) and the first 'successor candidate' (i.e. candidates who can only replace the directly elected candidates when they resign, become minister, etc.) can spend maximum 5,000 euro (6,400 US Dollar) during the electoral campaign period. (3) All other 'successor candidates' can spend maximum 2,500 euro (3,200 US Dollar) during the electoral campaign period.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where it is forbidden for political parties and individual candidates to spend more than a certain amount in a political campaign.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the maximum amount exists, but it applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Articles 2 and 4. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

        Federal Public Service of the Interior, Verkiezingsuitgaven - Verkiezing van de Kamer van volksvertegenwoordigers van 25 mei 2014 (Electoral expenses - Election of the Chamber of Representatives on May 25, 2014), February 29, 2014, http://www.verkiezingen.fgov.be/fileadmin/userupload/Elections2014/FR/Candidat/enpratique/DepensesChambreUitgavenKamer2014_20140227.pdf.

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        18
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        --
        Open Question: Do the national laws regulating political finance also apply to sub-national units? If not, to what extent do sub-national units have laws regulating political finance?More about indicator

        The federal law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties is the central law regarding party and campaign finance in Belgium and is composed of three major chapters.

        (1) The first major chapter concerns the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the elections of the Chamber of representatives. The limitation of the electoral expenses for the elections for the sub-national parliaments (i.e. the Flemish Parliament, the Walloon Parliament, the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region and the Parliament of the German-speaking Community) is a federal competence as well, but these regulations are laid down in a separate law, namely the federal law regarding the regulation of the electoral campaign and the limitation and the declaration of the electoral expenses for the elections of the Flemish Parliament, the Walloon Parliament, the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region and the Parliament of the German-speaking Community, and regarding the establishment of the review criteria for official governmental announcements. Nevertheless, these regulations are largely the same as for the federal elections. Candidates for the Flemish and the Walloon Parliament are, for instance, subject to the same spending limits. Only for candidates for the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region and the Parliament of the German-speaking Community, these limits are slightly lower (since their electorate is smaller). Next to that, the definition of electoral propaganda is the same, as well as the list of forbidden and allowed campaign materials. Thus, the federal legislator is authorized to draw up the regulations concerning the sub-national Parliaments, but mainly copies the federal regulations.D56

        On the other hand, controlling whether the political parties and the individual candidates comply with these federal rules concerning the elections of the sub-national parliaments is a competence of the Regions and the Communities. For this purpose, the different sub-national parliaments have established their own Control Commissions. These Commissions at the level of the Regions and the Communities control the parties and candidates' electoral spending and - if necessary - impose a punishment.

        Finally, this chapter regulates the criteria for official government announcements, in order to avoid that official announcements and information campaigns of the government promote the personal image of one or more members of the government or of one of the presidents of the federal Chambers. On the sub-national level, the control on these government announcements is a competence of the Regions and Communities as well and can be carried out by their Control Commissions.

        (2) The second major chapter of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties concerns the funding of political parties. More specifically, this chapter introduces the federal subsidy for political parties that are represented in the federal Parliament. However, the sub-national parliaments can still decide to pay out an additional subsidy to the political parties. This is the case in the Flemish Parliament and the Walloon Parliament. According to their respective regulations, they both offer a subsidy (literally: donation) to the parties that are represented by at least five members in their hemicycle.

        Next to that, this chapter contains the regulations concerning contributions and donations. These regulations are repeated in exactly the same wordings in the law regarding the regulation of the electoral campaign and the limitation and the declaration of the electoral expenses for the elections of the Flemish Parliament, the Walloon Parliament, the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region and the Parliament of the German-speaking Community, and regarding the establishment of the review criteria for official governmental announcements. This means that the regulations concerning contributions are the same at all levels, national as well as sub-national.

        (3) The last major chapter is dedicated to the parties' annual financial reports. This is a federal competence and is applicable at all levels. This does make sense: since most political parties are active at the federal as well as the sub-national and the local level and since their overall revenues and expenditures (apart from electoral campaigns) concern all these levels, their finances are regulated at the highest, i.e. the federal, level. The Regions and Communities are not able or allowed to make their own legislation concerning this issue.

        To summarize, it should be clear that, although there is a separate law related to the elections at the sub-national level of the Regions and the Communities (the law regarding the regulation of the electoral campaign and the limitation and the declaration of the electoral expenses for the elections of the Flemish Parliament, the Walloon Parliament, the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region and the Parliament of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community, and regarding the establishment of the review criteria for official governmental announcements), most regulations are similar to those at the federal level. Thus, although the central federal law concerning party and campaign finance (the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties) is not always applicable to sub-national campaigns, the sub-national campaigns are to a large extent regulated by similar regulations. Only the control on compliance with the laws is a specific competence of the Regions and Communities.

        According to GRECO (Group of States against Corruption), the presence of those regional Control Commissions, next to the federal Control Commission, poses a problem: "On various occasions it has concerned itself, during talks, with the feasibility and expediency, in the Belgian context, of bringing the entire system under the responsibility of a single control commission (having regional sections if appropriate). That would have several advantages over the present situation typified by the lack of developed co-operation between the federal commission and the regional commissions, for example where exchange of information is concerned (apart from pooling good practices and agreeing on the interpretation of the statutes). Finally, it would allow a better grasp of the complexity of the financial structures and flows within the parties and between them and the candidates."

        However, party finance expert Bart Maddens does not consider the presence of the regional Control Commissions, next to the federal Control Commission, as a problem. He argues that the verification of the parties' annual accounts is still completely organized at the federal level, solely by the federal Control Commission, and that only the control of the electoral expenses is organized at both the federal and the regional level, by both the federal and the regional Control Commissions. According to Maddens, this is a logical outcome of the regionalisation of the competences concerning party and campaign finance. Each level (federal, Flemish, Walloon, ...) should be able to verify the compliance with its own legal rules. Thus while compliance with the federal rules is verified by the federal Control Commission, compliance with the Flemish or Walloon rules should be verified by their own Control Commission.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please describe the applicability of national political finance regulations at the sub-national level, being sure to answer: 1) whether national laws are applicable to sub-national campaigns; 2) if not, to what extent do sub-national units have similar laws regulating political finance; and 3) whether there are any reports of problems arising from gaps in this framework.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

        Law regarding the regulation of the electoral campaign and the limitation and the declaration of the electoral expenses for the elections of the Flemish Parliament, the Walloon Parliament, the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region and the Parliament of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community, and regarding the establishment of the review criteria for official governmental announcements. 1994. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&cn=1994051952&table_name=wet.

        Reglement van het Vlaams Parlement (Regulations of the Flemish Parliament), art. 8, 2014, http://docs.vlaamsparlement.be/docs/stukken/2014/g7-1.pdf.

        Règlement du Parlement wallon (Regulations of the Walloon Parliament), art. 28, 2010, http://nautilus.parlement-wallon.be/archives/documentation/roi.pdf.

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, October 28, 2014, Leuven.

        GRECO (Group of States against Corruption), Third Evaluation Round - Evaluation Report on Belgium - Transparency of Political Party Funding, May 15, 2009, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/evaluations/round3/GrecoEval3%282008%298BelgiumTwo_EN.pdf.

        B. Maddens, J. Smulders, K. Weekers, Partij- en campagnefinanciering in België (Party and campaign finance in Belgium), Leuven: Acco, 2014, p. 5.

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        19
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        Open Question: What are the predominant sources of funding for electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        Information on the sources of funding for electoral campaigns is only available in the financial reports on the campaign expenses of the political parties and the individual candidates. After the elections, every party and every candidate should submit such a financial report. However, these documents are not online available, but can only be accessed at the court of first instance of the constituency where the candidate ran for election or where the party has its main office. Moreover, this is only possible from the 75th until the 90th day after the elections. This means that for the federal elections of May 25, 2014, these documents could only be accessed from August 8 until August 22, 2014. The consequence of this procedure is that the information on the sources of funding is not easily or readily available. It mostly depends on the work of academic researchers and journalists whether this information is gathered and analyzed.

        For the most recent elections of May 25, 2014, this analysis has only been made by researchers of the University of Leuven. However, they only focused on the Flemish political parties. As a consequence, information on the sources of funding of the French-speaking parties is not available. Even party finance experts Bart Maddens (Flemish) and Jean Faniel (French-speaking), as well as secretary of the Control Commission Paul Muls, have no knowledge of any report or analysis on the French-speaking parties concerning the most recent elections.

        According to the report by Maddens, Smulders and Put on the campaign expenses of the Flemish political parties in the run-up to the elections of May 25, 2014, all parties (represented in the federal Parliament before or after the elections) together spent a total amount of 6,342,688 euro (8,100,000 US Dollar) on the electoral campaign. The most important source of funding for the parties was their own patrimony: up to 91.4% of all expenses (5,798,493 euro - 7,400,000 US Dollar) was paid by the parties themselves. This is the money the political parties collect and save throughout the year. All other sources of funding were only of minor importance to the parties: donations from individuals (4%), contributions from the parties' components (3%) and other, unspecified sources (1.6%). This means that political parties to a large extent self-finance their electoral campaigns.

        The individual candidates, on their turn, spent a total amount of 14,249,889 euro (18,200,000 US Dollar) on the electoral campaign (all candidates of all parties represented in the federal Parliament before or after the elections together). The preponderance of funding came from the political parties: the parties sponsor their candidates and, in this way, they paid about 84.1% (11,988,783 euro - 15,300,000 US Dollar) of all candidates' campaign expenses. The candidates self-finance for only 15%: only 2,141,375 euro (2,700,000 US Dollar) was paid by the candidates themselves. The remaining part (0,9%) comes from donations from individuals.

        This overview clearly shows that the most predominant source of funding for electoral campaigns are the political parties themselves. They not only fund their own campaign for a large part, but they also pay for a large part of the candidates' campaigns. Compared to this, the personal investment of the individual candidates is rather small. Other sources of funding (mainly donations from individuals) are almost negligible. It should be clear, however, that the amounts mentioned above not only concern actual money, but also include the countervalue of goods and services used during the campaign (cf. indicator 28).

        To conclude, it should be noted that these numbers only concern the Flemish political parties. As already stated above, there are no analyses on the French-speaking parties. However, professor Bart Maddens mentions that there has been a report on the campaign expenses and the sources of funding of all Belgian political parties (Flemish and French-speaking), although this dates back to the federal elections of June 10, 2007. Nevertheless, the results of this 2007 report largely support the evidence in the 2014 report, namely that the parties are the predominant source of funding and that the investment of the individual candidates is rather limited.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please describe the important sources of funding for electoral campaigns, being sure to answer: 1) where does the preponderance of funding come from - public, individual, corporate, or other; 2) to what extent do individual candidates self-finance; and 3) do political parties have other methods of generating campaign funds, such as owning their own businesses or trusts.

        Sources

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        B. Maddens, J. Smulders, G. Put, De uitgaven van de Vlaamse partijen voor de federale, regionale en Europese verkiezingen van 25 mei 2014 (The expenses of the Flemish parties for the federal, regional and European elections of May 25, 2014), KU Leuven Instituut voor de Overheid, Vives Briefing, 2014, http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/VIVES/publicaties/briefings/BRIEFINGS/vives-briefing-verkiezingsuitgaven-2014.pdf.

        B. Maddens, J. Pilet, K. Weekers, S. Fiers, De uitgaven van de Belgische partijen voor de federale verkiezingen van 10 juni 2007 (The expenses of the Belgian parties for the federal elections of June 10, 2007), Centrum voor Politicologie (KU Leuven) and Cevipol (ULB), 2007, http://soc.kuleuven.be/io/verkiezingen2014/archief/files/2007-uitgaven-federale-verkiezingen-2007-belgische-partijen.pdf.

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        Open Question: Have there been documented instances of violations of contribution or expenditure limits or any of the laws mentioned above (Section 2)?More about indicator

        In the context of the most recent federal elections of May 25, 2014, there have been no documented instances of violations of contribution or expenditure limits or any of the laws mentioned in Section 2. Party finance experts Bart Maddens and Jean Faniel, as well as Control Commission secretary Paul Muls all argue that it happens only rarely that parties or candidates exceed the contribution and expenditure limits, or that the rules concerning contributions are not complied with.

        Before the introduction of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties in 1989, there was no legal framework on party and campaign finance in Belgium: parties and candidates were acting in a legal vacuum. As a consequence, the electoral expenses soared election after election and large contributions were made by companies and third party actors, not being restricted by any rules. Inevitably, this gave rise to some corruption scandals. With the introduction of the law in 1989 and its amendment in 1993, however, this all changed. From then on, parties and candidates were strictly limited in receiving and spending (political) money, and the legislator gained insight in their financial situation (Maddens, Smulders & Weekers, 2014).

        Since the introduction of this law, reports on violations of the law have been rather scarce. This is mainly because parties and candidates now have to report on their contributions and expenditures and because the monitoring agency, the Control Commission, can impose sanctions. Therefore, political parties and candidates are very cautious and prudent during the electoral campaign in order not to break the law, as they want to avoid sanctions.

        However, this does not mean that are no violations of the law at all. In 2007, for instance, member of the Walloon Parliament Léon Walry stood as a candidate for the federal elections. But during the electoral campaign period, he largely exceeded his expenditure limit (Göransson & Faniel, 2008). And in the context of the elections for the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region in 2014, five elected candidates of the party FDF were accused of exceeding their expenditure limits. However, the party itself denied this violation of the law and argued that there were only some formalistic issues (Colleyn, 2014). On the parties and candidates that ran for the federal elections of 2014, on the other hand, no reports or documented instances are available.

        To conclude, it should be noted that expert Jean Faniel slightly nuances this last finding. If there are no documented instances on violations of the law, it might be possible that there were, in reality, indeed no violations. But, on the other hand, it might also be the case that there were violations in the run-up to or after the elections, although they are not known or were not reported on.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please list and describe all documented instances of: 1) violation of contribution limits, 2) violation of expenditure limits, and 3) financial contributions that circumvent the regulatory framework. The objective of this question is to learn more about the local context, so please explain the cases in as much detail as relevant.

        Sources

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        B. Maddens, J. Smulders, K. Weekers, Partij- en campagnefinanciering in België (Party and campaign finance in Belgium), Leuven: Acco, 2014.

        M. Göransson, J. Faniel, Le financement et la comptabilité des partis politiques francophones (The funding and the annual accounts of the French-speaking political parties), Courrier hebdomadaire nr. 1989-1990, CRISP, 2008, http://www.cairn.info/revue-courrier-hebdomadaire-du-crisp-2008-4-page-6.htm.

        M. Colleyn, Les dépenses électoral du FDF épinglées (The electoral expenses of FDF reviewed), La Libre Belgique, August 28, 2014, p. 6, http://www.lalibre.be/actu/politique-belge/les-depenses-electorales-du-fdf-epinglees-53fe176035708a6d4d51cbfe.

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    Reporting and Public Disclosure

    More about category
    composite
    37
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      Reporting Requirements to the Oversight Entity
      More about category
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        21
        Score
        NO
        In law, political parties and individual candidates report itemized contributions and expenditures both during and outside electoral campaign periods.More about indicator

        Only political parties should report on their contributions and expenditures outside electoral campaign periods. According to articles 22 and 23 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, political parties who receive direct public funding should "draw up a financial report on the annual accounts of the political party and its components. The financial report is drawn up annually according to the provisions of the law of July 17, 1975 regarding the companies’ bookkeeping and annual reports and its orders of execution. The financial report includes at least the documents listed in the annex to this law, in the form set forth in the annex, as the case may be."

        One of the documents that must be included according to the annex is "the consolidated account of the political party and its components, including a consolidated balance sheet, a consolidated profit-and-loss account, as well as explanatory notes on the consolidated balance sheet and the consolidated profit-and-loss account, according to the model set forth by the Control Commission" (see attachment). Moreover, starting from January 1, 2015, the parties will also have to include "the balance and the profit-and-loss account of each component of the political party separately". This means that political parties have to report on their financial situation annually, including their contributions and expenditures. However, these reports are not itemized in the sense that they give a detailed overview of each contribution received and each expenditure made. They only give an aggregated overview of all the contributions received and expenditures made during the last financial year, totaled per category or type.

        Concerning the contributions received and expenditures made during the electoral campaign period, both political parties and individual candidates should report on it. However, they should not report during the electoral campaign period itself, but only afterwards. According to article 6 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties and article 116 of the Electoral code, political parties and individual candidates "commit themselves to report to the president of the head office of the constituency, with confirmation of receipt and within forty-five days after the elections, on their electoral expenses and the origin of the funds used [...] The report on the electoral expenses and the origin of the funds, as well as the confirmation of receipt are made up based on special forms set forth by the Minister of the Interior and published in time in the Belgian Official Gazette." In these special forms, published in the Annex to the Ministerial Decree of April 18, 2003, political parties and individual candidates should register their expenditures and contributions (cf. indicator 28). But, as mentioned in the law, this should only be done after the elections. Moreover, these report forms are not itemized in the sense that they give a detailed overview of each contribution received and each expenditure made. They only give an aggregated overview of all the contributions received and expenditures made during the electoral campaign period, totaled per category or type.

        Political parties that don't receive direct public funding are not required to submit an annual financial report outside the electoral campaign period. They are not covered by articles 22 and 23 in the law. However, they should report on their contributions received and expenditures made during the electoral campaign period. All parties and candidates participating in elections should report on their electoral expenses after the elections. This is also the case for parties that were not able to win a seat in parliament.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where political parties and individual candidates are required to report itemized contributions and expenditures to the oversight authority, both during and outside electoral campaign periods.

        A MODERATE score is earned where: 1) the requirement applies for itemized contributions, but not for itemized expenditures, or 2) it applies only during the electoral campaign but not outside it. A MODERATE score is also earned where the requirement exists, but it only applies to one actor (whether political parties and individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Articles 6, 22, 23 and Annex. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

        Electoral code. Article 116. 1894. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1894041230.

        Control Commission regarding the electoral expenses and the annual accounts of the political parties, Annexes on the regulations of the Commission, 2010 (see attachment).

        Ministerial Decree establishing the model of the report referred to in article 6 of the law of July 4, 1989 regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, and establishing the model of the declarations for the electoral expenses done by the political parties for electoral propaganda and the origin of the funds they use to cover these expenses and establishing the receipt of these declarations. 2003. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&cn=2003041830&table_name=wet.

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        22
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        MODERATE
        In law, political parties and individual candidates are required to report their financial information on a monthly basis during the electoral campaign.More about indicator

        There is no law requiring monthly reporting. However, there a post election report is required following electoral campaigns.

        Both political parties and individual candidates should report on the contributions received and expenditures made during the electoral campaign period. However, they should not report their financial information during the electoral campaign period itself, but only once afterwards. According to article 6 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties and article 116 of the Electoral code, political parties and individual candidates "commit themselves to report to the president of the head office of the constituency, with confirmation of receipt and within forty-five days after the elections, on their electoral expenses and the origin of the funds used."

        Knowing that (1) the electoral campaign period, prior to the elections, lasts three months (article 4 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties) and that (2) political parties and individual candidates only have to report once on the contributions received and expenditures made during the electoral campaign period, it can be concluded that parties and candidates have to submit a post-election financial report only once per three-month period, or quarterly.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where political parties and individual candidates must report monthly their financial information to the oversight authority during the electoral campaign.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the requirement exists on a quarterly basis. A MODERATE score is also earned where the requirement only applies to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Articles 4 and 6. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

        Electoral code. Article 116. 1894. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1894041230

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        23
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        MODERATE
        In law, political parties and individual candidates are required to report their financial information on a quarterly basis outside of electoral campaign periods.More about indicator

        For individual candidates, there is no such law. Only political parties should report their financial information outside electoral campaign periods. According to articles 22 and 23 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, political parties who receive direct public funding should "draw up a financial report on the annual accounts of the political party and its components. The financial report is drawn up annually according to the provisions of the law of July 17, 1975 regarding the companies’ bookkeeping and annual reports and its orders of execution. The financial report includes at least the documents listed in the annex to this law, in the form set forth in the annex, as the case may be."

        Article 24 adds that "within one hundred and twenty days after the closing of the accounts, the report specified in article 23 shall be sent to the Minister of Finance and to the presidents of the Chamber of representatives and of the Senate who shall make sure that the report is immediately published in the Parliamentary Documents." To be complete, it should be noted here that on January 1, 2015, this article will be slightly amended. From then on, the report should only be sent to the president of the Chamber of representatives.

        It is clear that political parties have to report on their financial situation. However, they only have to do this on a yearly basis, after closing the accounts at the end of the financial year. Moreover, this report should only be sent to the authorities within one hundred and twenty days after closing the accounts.

        Political parties that don't receive direct public funding are not required to submit an annual financial report outside the electoral campaign period. They are not covered by articles 22 and 23 in the law. The most striking example in this context is the Workers' Party of Belgium (PVDA/PTB). This party already exists since the 1970's and participated in elections ever since. However, until the elections of May 25, 2014, the party had never been able to win a seat in parliament. Consequentely, the party did not receive state subsidies and was not required to report annually on its financial situation. After the 2014 elections, the party was represented in the Chamber of representatives for the first time, thus receiving direct public funding. Therefore, the party now has to submit an annual financial report.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where political parties and individual candidates must report quarterly their financial information to the oversight authority outside of electoral campaign periods.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the requirement exists on a yearly basis. A MODERATE score is also earned where the requirement only applies to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Articles 22, 23 and 24. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

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        24
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        0
        In practice, to what extent do political parties and individual candidates report itemized financial information monthly?More about indicator

        Both political parties and individual candidates should report on their electoral expenses and the origin of the funds used during the electoral campaign period. However, they should not report their financial information during the electoral campaign period itself, but only once afterwards. Forty-five days after the elections at the latest, the financial reports should be submitted to the president of the head office of the constituency. For the most recent elections of May 25, 2014, this deadline was set at July 9, 2014. When candidates or parties refrain from reporting on their electoral expenses, the president of the head office will mention this in a report (s)he draws up on the candidates and parties' financial reports. Researcher Gert-Jan Put, who analyzed the candidates and parties' financial reports as well as the reports drawn up by the presidents for the 2014 elections, argues that this is actually done in practice, although it only happens rarely that candidates or parties refrain from reporting. For example, only two candidates (0.7%) of all 2,898 Flemish candidates for the 2014 elections did not file a financial report (Maddens, Smulders & Put, 2014). All other candidates and all parties fulfilled their obligations, although this means that they only reported once on their finances during the whole electoral period.

        The parties and candidates' financial reports on the electoral expenses and the origin of the funds are made up on the basis of special forms set forth by the Minister of the Interior and published in time in the Belgian Official Gazette. In these special forms, published in the Annex to the Ministerial Decree of April 18, 2003, political parties and individual candidates should register their expenditures and contributions. According to researcher Gert-Jan Put, the parties and candidates' financial reports are fairly itemized, since they give a detailed overview of all the contributions received and expenditures made during the electoral campaign period, totaled per category or type (cf. indicator 28). However, these reports are only drawn up in an aggregated manner. Moreover, there is no time perspective in the reports, meaning that there only is an overview of the total amount of contributions received and of expenditures made during the complete electoral campaign period. Therefore, it should be concluded that the financial reports are not itemized in the sense that they give a detailed overview of each contribution received and each expenditure made at a certain time point during the electoral campaign period.

        There is, however, one exception. Political parties and individual candidates should register donations of 125 euros (160 US Dollar) or more (cf. indicator 25). The list of these donations has to be reported to the Control Commission (but cannot be consulted by the public, contrary to all other information). Thus, there is some itemized information available, but only on these specific donations. And since donations are only of minor importance in Belgian politics, (the value of) this information is only very limited in comparison with all other aggregated data.

        To conclude, secretary of the Control Commission Paul Muls adds to this that although political parties and individual candidates report only once on their contributions and expenses and they report only in an aggregated manner, this financial information is controlled very extensively by the Control Commission, as a consequence of which this process takes up to a few months to be completed.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) political parties and individual candidates report on their financial information monthly, and 2) the reports include both itemized contributions and itemized expenditures.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) the reports are occasionally general rather than itemized or don't contain all accounts, or 2) the reporting frequency is quarterly.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) political parties and individual candidates rarely or never file reports, 2) the reports are filed but are rarely or never itemized or refer only to either contributions or expenditures, or 3) the reporting frequency is less than quarterly.

        Sources

        Interview with Gert-Jan Put, Researcher of the Research Foundation - Flanders, August 21, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        B. Maddens, J. Smulders, G. Put, De uitgaven van de Vlaamse partijen voor de federale, regionale en Europese verkiezingen van 25 mei 2014 (The expenses of the Flemish parties for the federal, regional and European elections of May 25, 2014), KU Leuven Instituut voor de Overheid, Vives Briefing, 2014, http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/VIVES/publicaties/briefings/BRIEFINGS/vives-briefing-verkiezingsuitgaven-2014.pdf.

        Ministerial Decree establishing the model of the report referred to in article 6 of the law of July 4, 1989 regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, and establishing the model of the declarations for the electoral expenses done by the political parties for electoral propaganda and the origin of the funds they use to cover these expenses and establishing the receipt of these declarations. 2003. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&cn=2003041830&table_name=wet.

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        25
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        25
        In practice, to what extent do financial reports by political parties and individual candidates include all types of contributions?More about indicator

        The financial reports on the contributions received and expenses made by political parties and individual candidates are based on a template or standardized form published in the Annex to the Ministerial Decree of April 18, 2003. In these forms, parties and candidates have to mention where the money for their electoral campaign came from, i.e. the origin of their financial resources. The total sum spent has to be broken down into eight categories of origin, of which three refer to contributions made by individuals. More specifically, these three categories are (1) in cash donations from individuals, (2) the countervalue of in-kind donations from individuals, and (3) the countervalue of benefits and services from individuals. Researcher Gert-Jan Put, who analyzed the candidates and parties' financial reports for the 2014 elections, argues that as a consequence, these reports give an overview of all types of contributions, since not only in cash donations should be reported, but also the countervalue of in-kind donations, benefits and services should be included. However, he adds that there is no itemized list of all contributions in the sense that there is a detailed overview of each contribution received at a certain time point during the electoral campaign period.

        This last element is only the case for donations of 125 euros (160 US Dollar) and more. When a political party or an individual candidate receives a donation of 125 euros or more (real value or countervalue), the party or candidate should register this donation. The list of these donations should then be submitted to the Control Commission, together with all other financial information. More specifically, three elements should be registered and submitted: (1) the date on which the donation was received, (2) the identity of the individual who donated, including name, full address and nationality, and (3) the amount of the donation, be it the real value or the countervalue. However, these reports do not mention the specific type of each donation, since parties and candidates only have to register the value of the donation, regardless of the type of the donation.

        This means that while the aggregated overview of all donations (including donations of less than 125 euros) makes a distinction between different types of contributions (although different donations cannot be distinguished from each other), the detailed and itemized overview of donations of 125 euros or more does not make the distinction between different types of contributions and only reports on the amounts received. Moreover, Control Commission secretary Paul Muls adds that while the aggregated list of donations received by each party and candidate is available to the public for a period of fifteen days (cf. indicator 28), the itemized overview of donations of 125 euros or more should only be available to the Control Commission, due to privacy reasons.


        Peer Reviewer comment: Agree. In conclusion, at the aggregated level, political parties have to present an itemized report of their financial sources. But at the level of each donation made by natural people, there is no obligation for the parties or the individual candidates receiving the donation to report information on the precise nature of the donation. Hence, one cannot consider there is no itemized reports at all, but a very moderate score seems to be appropriate.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) reports include an itemized list of all contributions indicating their type (in-kind, cash where allowed, etc.) and amount (estimated value for in-kind contributions), and 2) contain donors' names and addresses (or other personal identifier).

        A 50 score is earned where only one of the two conditions listed in the 100 criteria is met.

        A 0 score is earned where neither condition is met.

        Sources

        Interview with Gert-Jan Put, Researcher of the Research Foundation - Flanders, August 21, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Ministerial Decree establishing the model of the report referred to in article 6 of the law of July 4, 1989 regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, and establishing the model of the declarations for the electoral expenses done by the political parties for electoral propaganda and the origin of the funds they use to cover these expenses and establishing the receipt of these declarations. 2003. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&cn=2003041830&table_name=wet.

        Overzicht houdende registratie van de identiteit van de natuurlijke personen die giften doen van 125 euro en meer aan kandidaten (Overview concerning the registration of the identity of the individuals who make donations of 125 euros and more to candidates), Annex to the Ministerial Decree establishing the model of the report referred to in article 6 of the law of July 4, 1989, and establishing the model of the declarations for the electoral expenses done by the political parties for electoral propaganda and the origin of the funds they use to cover these expenses and establishing the receipt of these declarations, 2014, http://www.verkiezingen.fgov.be/fileadmin/user_upload/Elections2014/NL/Kandidaat/praktijk/uitgaven/Depenses-electorales-AM-candidats-4-NDL.pdf.

        Overzicht houdende registratie van de identiteit van de natuurlijke personen die giften doen van 125 euro en meer aan politieke partijen (Overview concerning the registration of the identity of the individuals who make donations of 125 euros and more to political parties), Annex to the Ministerial Decree establishing the model of the report referred to in article 6 of the law of July 4, 1989, and establishing the model of the declarations for the electoral expenses done by the political parties for electoral propaganda and the origin of the funds they use to cover these expenses and establishing the receipt of these declarations, 2014, http://www.verkiezingen.fgov.be/fileadmin/user_upload/Elections2014/NL/Kandidaat/praktijk/uitgaven/Depenses-electorales-AM-partis-politiques-4-NDL.pdf.

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      Availability of Electoral Campaigns' Financial Information to the Public
      More about category
      • expand button!
        26
        Score
        MODERATE
        In law, financial information from political parties and individual candidates must be available to the public.More about indicator

        According to article 94ter of the Electoral code, "the presidents of the main offices of the constituency make, each on their own, within seventy-five days after the date of the elections, in quadruplicate, a report on behalf of the Control Commission on the expenses incurred by the political parties and the individual candidates for electoral propaganda, as well as on the origin of the funds they have used for this purpose. [...] The political parties and candidates' declarations [on their expenses and origin of funds, cf. indicators 21 and 22] are annexed to the report. [...] A copy of the report shall be made available for public inspection at the registry of the court of first instance, from the seventy-fifth day after the elections for a period of fifteen days, to all voters on presentation of their polling card, who can formulate their comments on this subject within the same period." This article shows that electoral campaigns' financial information from political parties and individual candidates is available to all voters. However, it is only public for a period of fifteen days starting from the seventy-fifth day after the elections. Moreover, this information is not online or digitally available, but only on written forms at the courts of first instance.

        Next to that, the public has another opportunity to gather financial information on the electoral campaign, although this information is much less detailed than the information in the forms at the courts of first instance. According to article 12 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, "the Control Commission decides, within one hundred and eighty days after the election date, in public assembly, upon the accuracy and the completeness of the reports specified in article 94ter of the Election code. [...] These decisions are presented in a report approved by the Control Commission. This report contains at least the following information: (1) for each political party, the total amount of electoral expenses made for this specific party; (2) for each constituency, the total amount of electoral expenses made for each list and the total amount of expenses made for all the candidates on the list and for each elected candidate separately." A copy of this report is immediately transmitted "to the administration of the Belgian Official Gazette, to be published in the annexes of the Belgian Official Gazette within thirty days from its reception." This information will in the end be online available, but it can take more than six months until the information is finally published. Moreover, this information is not as detailed as the information in the parties and candidates' financial reports.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where in law financial information of political parties and individual candidates must be made available to the public, whether online or digitally within two days of request.

        A MODERATE score is earned where financial information must be made available to the public, but no requirement exists regarding cost, format or number of days within which it must be made available.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 12. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

        Electoral code. Article 94ter. 1894. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1894041230

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        27
        Score
        25
        In practice, to what extent can citizens easily access the financial information of all political parties and individual candidates?More about indicator

        A summarizing report on the parties and candidates' electoral expenses as well as all the parties and candidates' financial reports are available for public inspection at the registry of the court of first instance of the constituencies, from the seventy-fifth day after the elections for a period of fifteen days, to all voters on presentation of their polling card. In practice, this means that after the federal elections of May 25, 2014, voters were able to access the financial information of parties and candidates from August 8 to August 22, 2014.

        It should be clear that all relevant financial information is available to the public. The financial reports of parties and candidates contain detailed information on their electoral expenses, as well as on the origin of their funds. Researcher Gert-Jan Put, who accessed these reports in the context of a research project, confirms that, although it might happen that some reports are missing (e.g. when a candidates did not file a report, in spite of the legal requirement) or that some reports are not filled out in a correct way (e.g. because a candidate did not completely understand the rules), in general all financial information is available. Control Commission secretary Paul Muls adds to this that only detailed information on donations from individuals is not publicly available, due to privacy reasons.

        However, there are some constraints that limit access to the financial information. First of all, the financial reports are only publicly available for a period of fifteen days starting from the seventy-fifth day after the elections. This not only means that voters have to know when this period is starting exactly, but also that they need to have sufficient spare time to go to court of first instance to get access to these reports. Moreover, the courts of first instance are only opened during the working hours, which makes it extra difficult for ordinary citizens to access the documents. Next to that, an additional constraint is that these documents are not available online, nor in a digital or machine readable format, but only on written forms. This makes it extremely difficult to access and analyze the parties and candidates' financial information in an effective and efficient manner.

        Therefore, it should be concluded that is not very easy, although not impossible, for citizens to access the financial information of all parties and candidates of all constituencies. This is confirmed by Bart Maddens and Gert-Jan Put, who analyzed the financial information of the parties and candidates for the 2014 elections. They had to set up a small team to go to the courts of first instance in order to access all the financial reports during the fifteen day period (Maddens, Smulders & Put, 2014).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) all relevant financial information is freely available online, 2) it can be obtained digitally within two days of requesting it, and 3) it is in a machine readable format (for example in csv or xml format).

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) information is available but in some cases is incomplete or lacking detail, 2) obtaining complete information takes up to a month, or 3) it's not necessarily digital or in machine readable format.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) the information is not publicly available, or 2) obtaining it takes more than three months, or 3) the cost of obtaining it is prohibitive for the regular citizen.

        Sources

        B. Maddens, J. Smulders, G. Put, De uitgaven van de Vlaamse partijen voor de federale, regionale en Europese verkiezingen van 25 mei 2014 (The expenses of the Flemish parties for the federal, regional and European elections of May 25, 2014), KU Leuven Instituut voor de Overheid, Vives Briefing, 2014, http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/VIVES/publicaties/briefings/BRIEFINGS/vives-briefing-verkiezingsuitgaven-2014.pdf.

        Interview with Gert-Jan Put, Researcher of the Research Foundation - Flanders, August 21, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

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        Score
        100
        In practice, to what extent is financial information published in a standardized format?More about indicator

        The financial reports on the campaign expenses of the political parties and the individual candidates are based on a template or standardized form published in the Annex to the Ministerial Decree of April 18, 2003, and available on the website of the federal government. Parties and candidates only have to fill in their expenses in the blank boxes of these forms. In this way, the financial reports of all parties and of all candidates are directly comparable to another.

        For political parties, the standardized form consists of three large parts: (A) In the first part, they should report into detail how much money they spent on their electoral campaign (i.e. during the period of three months prior to the elections). The total sum spent has to be further subdivided into (1) costs for auditive and oral messages, (2) costs for written messages, (3) postage and distribution costs for electoral propaganda, (4) costs for visual messages, and (5) other costs. The second, third and fourth section on their turn are subdivided into even more detailed classes. (B) In the second part of the report form, parties have to mention where the money for their electoral campaign came from, i.e. the origin of their financial resources. The total sum spent can be broken down into eight categories of origin: (1) cash from the own patrimony of the party, (2) in cash donations from individuals, (3) countervalue of in kind donations from individuals, (4) countervalue of benefits and services from individuals, (5) financial contribution from the components of the political party, (6) countervalue of in kind donations from the components of the political party, (7) countervalue of benefits and services from the components of the political party, and (8) other origin. (C) In the last part of the form, parties can appoint specific candidates who were figurehead during the campaign or whose campaigns were partly financed by the political party.

        For individual candidates, the standardized form is very similar and consists of three large parts as well: (A) In the first part, candidates should report into detail how much money they spent on their electoral campaign, be it their personal campaign or as part of a joint campaign. The total sum spent has to be further subdivided into (1) costs for auditive and oral messages, (2) costs for written messages, (3) postage and distribution costs for electoral propaganda, (4) costs for visual messages, and (5) other costs. The second, third and fourth section on their turn are subdivided into even more detailed classes. (B) In the second part of the report form, candidates have to mention where the money for their electoral campaign came from, i.e. the origin of their financial resources. The total sum spent can be broken down into eight categories of origin: (1) cash from the own patrimony of the candidate, (2) in cash donations from individuals, (3) countervalue of in kind donations from individuals, (4) countervalue of benefits and services from individuals, (5) financial contribution from the political party, (6) countervalue of in kind donations from the political party, (7) countervalue of benefits and services from the political party, and (8) other origin. (C) In the last part of the form, candidates can indicate if they were figurehead during the campaign or if their campaign was partly financed by the political party.

        Every political party and every individual candidate should submit such a financial report. However, these documents are not online available, but can only be accessed at the court of first instance of the constituency where the candidate ran for election or where the party has its main office. Moreover, this is only possible from the 75th until the 90th day after the elections. This means that for the federal elections of May 25, 2014, these documents could only be accessed from August 8 until August 22, 2014. In spite of these practical limitations, researchers of the University of Leuven accessed these reports in several constituencies, in order to get a structured and detailed overview of the parties and candidates' electoral expenses (Maddens, Smulders & Put, 2014). These researchers also confirm that the financial information is indeed available in a standardized format, and that consequently the reports are directly comparable to one another, between different parties as well as between different constituencies, and even between different elections.


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. According to articles 22 and 23 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, political parties who receive direct public funding should "draw up a financial report on the annual accounts of the political party and its components. The financial report is drawn up annually according to the provisions of the law of July 17, 1975 regarding the companies’ bookkeeping and annual reports and its orders of execution. The financial report includes at least the documents listed in the annex to this law, in the form set forth in the annex, as the case may be."

        One of the documents that must be included according to the annex is "the consolidated account of the political party and its components, including a consolidated balance sheet, a consolidated profit-and-loss account, as well as explanatory notes on the consolidated balance sheet and the consolidated profit-and-loss account, according to the model set forth by the Control Commission". Moreover, starting from January 1, 2015, the parties will also have to include "the balance and the profit-and-loss account of each component of the political party separately". This means that political parties have to report on their financial situation annually, including their contributions and expenditures. And those documents are presented in a standardized format.

        However, these reports only concern the political parties that receive public subsidies.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where financial information for all political parties and individual candidates is available to the public in a standardized format.

        A 50 score is earned where only part of the information is published in a standardized format. A 50 score is also earned where the information is standardized, but it doesn't cover all political parties and individual candidates.

        A 0 score is earned where financial information is not available in a standardized format.

        Sources

        Ministerial Decree establishing the model of the report referred to in article 6 of the law of July 4, 1989 regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, and establishing the model of the declarations for the electoral expenses done by the political parties for electoral propaganda and the origin of the funds they use to cover these expenses and establishing the receipt of these declarations. 2003. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&cn=2003041830&table_name=wet.

        Federal Public Service of the Interior - Directorate of Elections, Dépenses électorales - Verkiezingsuitgaven (Electoral expenses), 2014, http://www.verkiezingen.fgov.be/index.php?id=3344.

        B. Maddens, J. Smulders, G. Put, De uitgaven van de Vlaamse partijen voor de federale, regionale en Europese verkiezingen van 25 mei 2014 (The expenses of the Flemish parties for the federal, regional and European elections of May 25, 2014), KU Leuven Instituut voor de Overheid, Vives Briefing, 2014, http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/VIVES/publicaties/briefings/BRIEFINGS/vives-briefing-verkiezingsuitgaven-2014.pdf.

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Gert-Jan Put, Researcher of the Research Foundation - Flanders, August 21, 2014, Leuven.

        Reviewer's sources: 'Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Articles 6, 22, 23 and Annex. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

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        Score
        0
        In practice, to what extent do mainstream journalism media outlets use political finance data in their reporting?More about indicator

        In 2014, no mainstream journalism media outlet has used officially published political finance data. This is confirmed by Flemish and French-speaking journalists, as well as by party finance experts Bart Maddens and Jean Faniel. The main reason for this is that the financial information of political parties and individual candidates cannot be accessed very easily (cf. indicator 27). Therefore, it takes quite some time to gather all the information needed. And since journalists often face very strict deadlines, they are not able to invest all their time in collecting the data themselves.

        This is why journalists often depend on the work of (mostly academic) researchers for their news stories on political funding and electoral expenses. In August 2014, for instance, there were several news stories on the electoral expenses of the Flemish parties and candidates, in newspapers as well as on television (e.g. Andries; Bouchrika; GOM; VTM Nieuws, 2014). However, all these stories were based on the findings of a report by researchers of the University of Leuven (Maddens, Smulders & Put, 2014)

        Nevertheless, expert Bart Maddens argues that, in the past, mainstream journalism media outlets have sometimes used official political finance data as part of their reporting, although this is mainly the case in the context of local elections. Journalists then go to the court of first instance themselves, in order to consult the financial reports of the parties and candidates and to collect the information needed. However, this does not happen in a systematic manner and often only for a limited number of parties or candidates.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where at least three independent mainstream journalism media outlets have used officially published political party or individual candidate financial information as part of their reporting.

        A 50 score is earned where one independent mainstream journalism media outlet has used officially published financial information as part of its reporting.

        A 0 score is earned where no mainstream journalism media outlet has used officially published financial information as part of its reporting.

        Sources

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Ewald Pironet, journalist for Knack, September 3, 2014 (E-mail).

        Interview with Véronique Lamquin, journalist for Le Soir, September 4, 2014 (E-mail).

        Interview with Pierre Havaux, journalist for Le Vif/l'Express, September 5, 2014 (E-mail).

        S. Andries, Zege kostte N-VA 1,17 euro per stem (N-VA paid 1,17 euro for its victory), Het Nieuwsblad, August 22, 2014.

        W. Bouchrika, N-VA gaf meeste geld uit in verkiezingsstrijd (N-VA spended the most during the electoral contest), Knack Online, August 21, 2014, http://www.knack.be/nieuws/belgie/n-va-gaf-meeste-geld-uit-in-verkiezingsstrijd/article-normal-272659.html.

        GOM, Moeder van alle verkiezingen kostte twintig miljoen euro (Mother of all elections costed twenty million euro), De Standaard, August 22, 2014.

        N-VA betaalt € 1,17 per stem, LDD € 7,36 (N-VA pays 1.17 euro per vote, LDD 7.36 euro), VTM NIeuws, August 21, 2014, http://nieuws.vtm.be/binnenland/105332-n-va-betaalt-eu-117-stem-ldd-eu-736.

        B. Maddens, J. Smulders, G. Put, De uitgaven van de Vlaamse partijen voor de federale, regionale en Europese verkiezingen van 25 mei 2014 (The expenses of the Flemish parties for the federal, regional and European elections of May 25, 2014), KU Leuven Instituut voor de Overheid, Vives Briefing, 2014, http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/VIVES/publicaties/briefings/BRIEFINGS/vives-briefing-verkiezingsuitgaven-2014.pdf.

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        30
        Score
        75
        In practice, to what extent were there no news reports or other documented incidents of violation or abuse of political finance laws?More about indicator

        Party finance experts Bart Maddens and Jean Faniel both confirm that until now (September 2014), no violations or abuses of party finance laws and regulations have been reported in the media concerning the federal elections of May 25, 2014. In addition, there even were no news reports on accusations of parties or candidates. However, in an academic report on the Flemish candidates that participated in the elections of May 25, 2014, it was reported that two Flemish candidates did not file a financial report on their expenses and origin of funds after the elections (Maddens, Smulders & Put, 2014). This can be considered as a violation of the law, since candidates are obliged to file a report (cf. indicator 22). Researcher Gert-Jan Put clarifies that one of the two offenders ran for the Chamber of representatives, while the other ran for the Flemish Parliament. Thus, there has been only one report of a violation or an abuse of the laws in the context of the national/federal elections.

        Nevertheless, both Maddens and Faniel add that such reports are in general rather exceptional, as most of the time, parties and candidates are very cautious and prudent during the electoral campaign, in order not to break the law and not to be penalized. However, Faniel slightly nuances this. If there are no news reports on violations or abuses, or even on accusations, it might be possible that there were, in reality, indeed no violations or abuses of the law and that all political parties and all individual candidates complied with the law. But, on the other hand, it might also be the case that there were violations or abuses in the run-up to or after the elections, although they are not known or were not reported on.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where there were no news reports or other documented incidents of violation or abuse of political finance laws during the most recent national election.

        A 50 score is earned where there were news reports or other documented incidents of no more than two cases of violation or abuse of political finance laws during the most recent national election.

        A 0 score is earned where there were frequent news reports or other documented incidents of violation or abuse of political finance laws during the most recent national election.

        Sources

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Gert-Jan Put, Researcher of the Research Foundation - Flanders, October 28, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        B. Maddens, J. Smulders, G. Put, De uitgaven van de Vlaamse partijen voor de federale, regionale en Europese verkiezingen van 25 mei 2014 (The expenses of the Flemish parties for the federal, regional and European elections of May 25, 2014), KU Leuven Instituut voor de Overheid, Vives Briefing, 2014, http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/VIVES/publicaties/briefings/BRIEFINGS/vives-briefing-verkiezingsuitgaven-2014.pdf.

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        31
        Score
        100
        In practice, to what extent were there no news reports or other documented incidents of vote-buying?More about indicator

        First of all, party finance expert Bart Maddens points out that the electoral code and the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties clearly forbid any form of vote-buying. More precisely, parties and candidates are forbidden to sell gadgets or to distribute gifts or gadgets. Next to that, parties and candidates are not allowed to give, offer or promise to voters a sum of money or any other value, under the pretext of travelling or accommodation allowance. Neither are they allowed to give, offer or promise food or drinks to voters on the occasion of an election. As a consequence of these legal provisions, parties and candidates should be extremely cautious and prudent during the electoral campaign, in order not to break the law and not to be penalized, since many actions could be considered as (illegal) forms of vote-buying.

        In practice, as a result of these legal stipulations, cases of vote-buying are in general rather exceptional in Belgium. If this occurs, this is mostly the case in the context of local elections, because candidates are not aware of all the specific regulations. In the context of the federal elections of May 25, 2014, however, no incidents of vote-buying have been reported in the media until now (September 2014). In addition, there even were no reports on accusations of parties or candidates. This is not only confirmed by Bart Maddens, but also by expert Jean Faniel and Control Commission secretary Paul Muls.

        However, Faniel slightly nuances this finding. If there are no news reports on vote-buying, or even on accusations, it might be possible that there were, in reality, indeed no violations of the law. But, on the other hand, it might also be the case that there were incidents of vote-buying in the run-up to the elections, although they are not known or were not reported on.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where there were no news reports or other documented incidents of vote-buying during the most recent national election.

        A 50 score is earned where there were news reports or other documented incidents of no more than two cases of vote-buying during the most recent national election.

        A 0 score is earned where there were frequent news reports or other documented incidents of vote-buying during the most recent national election.

        Sources

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 15. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434

        Electoral code. Article 116. 1894. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1894041230

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        Score
        0
        In practice, to what extent do civil society organizations use political finance data?More about indicator

        Although Belgium counts a lot of civil society organizations, none of them use financial information of political parties or individual candidates as part of their advocacy or awareness work. Both party finance experts Bart Maddens and Jean Faniel and Control Commission secretary Paul Muls argue that civil society organizations in Belgium do not focus on party and campaign funding.

        In general, political party or individual candidate financial information is only used by a handful of (academic) research institutes. In Flanders, studies on party and campaign finance are mainly carried out by members of the Public Governance Institute of the University of Leuven. In Wallonia, the Centre de recherche et d’information socio-politiques (CRISP) is the central actor working on this topic. Sometimes, there are some other organizations who investigate the financial situation of parties and candidates, but then it mainly concerns non-mainstream journalism media outlets (as, for instance, Apache.be, "a news site for in-depth investigative journalism"). Other actors or organizations do not actively use party or candidate financial information.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where at least three civil society organizations have used officially published political party or individual candidate financial information as part of their advocacy or awareness work.

        A 50 score is earned where one civil society organization has used officially published financial information as part of its advocacy or awareness work.

        A 0 score is earned where no civil society organization has used officially published financial information as part of its work.

        Sources

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Public Governance Institute - University of Leuven, Verkiezingen 2014 (Elections 2014), 2014, http://www.kuleuven.be/verkiezingen2014.

        Centre de recherche et d’information socio-politiques, À propos du CRISP (About the CRISP), 2014, http://www.crisp.be/a-propos/

        P. Casteels, S. Klaasman, Partijfinanciering (Party funding), 2014, http://www.apache.be/reeks/partijfinanciering/.

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        Score
        --
        Open Question: Have there been political finance legal reforms or reform bills presented to the legislature in the last 10 years?More about indicator

        The law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties is the central law regulating party and campaign finance in Belgium. In the past ten years, there have been a few minor changes to this law (Göransson & Faniel, 2008), next to one larger reform in 2014.

        Firstly, the law of February 17, 2005 introduced the possibility for political parties to receive a federal subsidy if they are represented in one of the two chambers of the federal Parliament, i.e. in either the Chamber of representatives or the Senate (cf. indicators 1 and 2). Before the introduction of this law, political parties could only receive a federal subsidy if they were represented in both federal chambers, i.e. in the Chamber as well as in the Senate. This law was a consequence of the situation of the political party N-VA at that time. After the federal elections of 2003, the party only had one representative in the Chamber (and not in the Senate), thus making no claim to a federal subsidy. Therefore, the party proposed this new law making it able to receive a subsidy anyway.

        Secondly, another law of February 17, 2005 modified article 15ter of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. This article 15ter allows to impose sanctions on political parties that do not respect the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention of November 4, 1950, and its additional protocols in force in Belgium. According to the modified article 15ter, the general assembly of the administrative department of the Council of State would have jurisdiction to decide on a complaint on the basis of article 15ter, and no longer the bilingual chamber of the Council of State. Moreover, this complaint should be made by at least one third of the members of the Control Commission (i.e. minimum seven members), instead of minimum five.

        Thirdly, the law of March 27, 2006 only concerned a minor change, since it only modified the name of "Regional Assembly" to "Regional Parliament" in several laws, including the law on party finance.

        Fourthly, the law of March 23, 2007 slightly changed some wordings in the law as well. But next to that, this law also introduced a ban during the electoral campaign period on the use of commercial advertising spots on radio and television and in movie theaters, as well as of paid messages on the internet. Thirdly, this law also specified the information that should be registered by political parties, their components, their lists, their candidates and their representatives in case of donations of 125 euro (160 US Dollar) or more, as well as the sanctions related to non-compliance. This law was the result of some recommendations made by a focus/reflection group which was set up within the Control Commission.

        Fifthly, the law of January 18, 2008 mainly modified some deadlines concerning the research procedure of the annual financial reports of the political parties by the Control Commission.

        Sixthly, the law of February 15, 2012 stipulated that the federal subsidy for the political parties in the federal Parliament (cf. indicator 2) would not be linked to the consumer price index in the financial years 2012 and 2013. In this way, the federal legislator wanted to contribute to the austerity measures of the government, in order to save public money.

        Finally, the law of January 6, 2014 drastically changed the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. As a consequence of the sixth reform of the state, the Senate would no longer be directly elected. This had an immediate and direct effect on (the calculation of) the federal subsidy, as this subsidy was calculated on the basis of the number of votes cast in the last elections for the both Chamber and the Senate. But since there would no longer be any votes for the Senate, a new method of calculation was introduced, going into force after the elections of May 25, 2014. It was decided that the federal subsidy would, from then on, only be based on (1) the votes cast for the Chamber of Representatives in the last elections - the amount per vote was increased (cf. indicator 2; Smulders, Faniel & Maddens, 2014) - and (2) a lump sum - the amount was kept the same. But both amounts (per vote and lump sum) are increased for the parties that are also represented in the Senate. Next to that, this law also introduced some changes as a reaction to the evaluation report of GRECO (Group of States against Corruption). Some notable changes include the expansion of the Control Commission with four experts (cf. indicator 40), the introduction of a regulation concerning sponsorship, the expansion of penalties in case of violations of the laws and regulations (cf. indicator 47), and the introduction of a right of appeal against decisions of the Control Commission (Muylle, 2014).

        Next to these seven political finance reforms during the last ten years, there have also been many reform attempts that were not approved.

        Firstly, on October 17, 2007 a bill was introduced into Parliament in order to provide more diversified sanctions in case of violations of the law. In such a way, the Control Commission could impose a more severe punishment on repeated offenders. This bill expired on May 7, 2010.

        Secondly, on December 13, 2007 a bill was put forward in Parliament in order to change the deadlines for the Control Commission's investigations. The member of parliament that submitted the bill argued that the Control Commission did not have sufficient time to carry out all its assignments correctly. This bill expired as well on May 7, 2010.

        Thirdly, on December 3, 2008 a bill was introduced amending article 25 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the federal Chambers, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. This amendment would make a heavier and more effective punishment possible in case the annual financial report of the political parties is not filed and/or approved. Once more, this bill expired on May 7, 2010.

        Fourthly, on November 22, 2010 the (expired) bill of October 17, 2007 was introduced into Parliament once again. The text of these two bills were identical. However, this new bill expired once more, on April 28, 2014.

        Fifthly, on March 4, 2011 a bill was put forward in order to change the modalities concerning the federal subsidy for political parties. More specifically, this bill proposed that the parties cannot receive this subsidy after the federal elections as long as the negotiations for a new federal government are going on. This bill expired on April 28, 2014 as well.

        Sixthly, on July 13, 2012 a bill was put forward in order to introduce a better balance in the funding of political parties, more specifically by reducing the total amount of the subsidies allocated to the parties, by increasing the amounts allocated to the smaller parties and by increasing the control on electoral spending. However, this bill expired on April 28, 2014.

        Finally, on March 7, 2014 a bill was introduced in order to modify the regime for the 'top positioned candidates' on candidate lists (cf. indicator 17). More specifically, the situation for smaller parties would be improved, as they could indicate more 'top positioned candidates' and therefore could spend more during the electoral campaign period. However, this bill expired on April 28, 2014 as well.

        The reform attempts that were not approved, were all introduced into Parliament as a bill. But none of them were discussed once, neither in a committee of the Chamber, neither in the plenary assembly. As a consequence, they all expired at the end of the term of the Chamber. This is not surprising, since the introduction of these bills was in general rather symbolic.

        Four of the seven bills were introduced by members of an opposition party, and more specifically by members of parties that might be considered as 'fringe parties'. They already know in advance that their bill will not be approved by the majority parties. Yet, they want to bring that specific issue to the attention of the parliament, and more in general to the attention of the public at large (hoping, for instance, that the media would report on it). Their main goal is not to have to bill approved, but rather to receive some attention.

        The same holds true for the other three bills, introduced by members of only a majority party. Yet, party finance expert Bart Maddens argues that in the past, political finance legal reforms were always approved by all majority parties, plus some opposition parties as well. Thus, the legislator always aimed for a consensus as broad as possible (Weekers, 2008). If members of only a majority party introduce a bill on their own, they can already expect that it will not be approved in the end, since a broad consensus is missing at that point. Once more, it can be concluded that, also in these cases, the main goal is not to have to bill approved, but rather to receive some attention for the issue concerned.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please list and describe all documented instances of: 1) political finance reforms, including bills passed, executive orders signed, court rulings and any other legal act that had a direct effect on existent political finance regulation, and 2) all legal reform attempts presented to the legislature even if they were not approved. Please describe the political context that produced the reforms or reform attempts.

        Sources

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, October 28, 2014, Leuven.

        K. Weekers, Het systeem van partij- en campagnefinanciering in België (The system of party and campaign finance in Belgium), Leuven: KU Leuven, Faculty of Social Sciences, 2008, https://lirias.kuleuven.be/handle/1979/2019.

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

        Law modifying the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the federal Chambers, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. 2005. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/mopdf/2005/04/21_2.pdf (p. 18260).

        Law modifying the coordinated laws on the Council of State and the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the federal Chambers, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. 2005. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/mopdf/2005/10/13_2.pdf (pp. 43989-43992).

        Law amending various laws that regulate a matter referred to in Article 77 of the Constitution to the new name of the legislative assemblies of the Communities and Regions. 2006. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/mopdf/2006/04/11_1.pdf (p. 19826).

        Law amending the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the federal Chambers, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties and the law regarding non-profit associations, international non-profit associations and foundations. 2007. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/mopdf/2007/03/28_2.pdf (pp. 17118-17120).

        Law amending the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the federal Chambers, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, concerning the deadlines prescribed for the exercise of the authorities of the Control Commission. 2008. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/mopdf/2008/01/23_2.pdf (pp. 3428-3429).

        Law amending the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the federal Chambers, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties in order to freeze the dotations to the political parties for the financial years 2012 and 2013. 2012. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/mopdf/2012/03/06_1.pdf (p. 13928).

        Law amending the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the federal Chambers, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, the electoral code, the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the European Parliament and the law regarding the regulation of the electoral campaign and the limitation and the declaration of the electoral expenses for the elections of the Flemish Parliament, the Walloon Parliament, the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region and the Parliament of the Parliament of the German-speaking Community, and regarding the establishment of the review criteria for official governmental announcements. 2014. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/mopdf/2014/01/31_1.pdf (pp. 8664-8674).

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 52 0209/001, October 17, 2007, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=52&dossierID=0209.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 52 0562/001, December 13, 2007, www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=52&dossierID=0562.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 52 1637/001, December 3, 2008, www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=52&dossierID=1637.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 53 0658/001, November 22, 2010, www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=53&dossierID=0658.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 53 1277/001, March 4, 2011, www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=53&dossierID=1277.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 53 2362/001, July 13, 2012, www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=53&dossierID=2362.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 53 3426/001, March 7, 2014, www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=53&dossierID=3426.

        M. Göransson, J. Faniel, Le financement et la comptabilité des partis politiques francophones (The funding and the annual accounts of the French-speaking political parties), Courrier hebdomadaire nr. 1989-1990, CRISP, 2008, http://www.cairn.info/revue-courrier-hebdomadaire-du-crisp-2008-4-page-6.htm.

        J. Smulders, J. Faniel, B. Maddens, Verkiezingen, partijen en overheidsfinanciering: de financiële gevolgen van de verkiezingen van 25 mei 2014 (Elections, parties and public funding: the financial consequences of the elections of May 25, 2014), Tijdschrift voor Bestuurswetenschappen en Publiekrecht, 7, 2014, http://www.jurisquare.be/en/journal/tbp/2014-7/verkiezingen-partijen-en-overheidsfinanciering-de-financiele-gevolgen-van-de-verkiezingen-van-25-mei/index.html.

        K. Muylle, Parlementair Recht (Parliamentary Law), Tijdschrift voor Bestuurswetenschappen en Publiekrecht, 7, 2014, http://www.jurisquare.be/en/journal/tbp/2014-7/%5Bkroniek%5D-parlementair-recht/index.html.

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    Third Party Actors

    More about category
    composite
    0
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      Applicability of the Law to Third-Party Actors
      More about category
      • expand button!
        34
        Score
        NO
        In law, third-party actors (foundations, think tanks, unions, political action committees, etc.) report itemized contributions received and expenditures to an oversight authority and the information is made publicly available.More about indicator

        No such law exists.

        Third-party actors can conduct an electoral campaign in support of a political party or an individual candidate, independent of the party or candidate concerned (cf. indicator 37). But they can mainly do so because they are not covered by the law at all. The law only states that donations from legal persons or de facto associations (and thus most third-party actors) to parties or candidates are prohibited (cf. indicator 16). But the law does not mention anything on campaigns by third-party actors, organized independent of a party or candidate. Consequently, as they are not covered by the law, third-party actors are not required to report any financial information or to make it publicly available.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) third-party actors are required to report to the oversight authority itemized contributions received and expenditures related to their support of electoral campaigns, and 2) the information must be publicly available.

        A MODERATE score is earned where third-party actors are required to report itemized contributions received and expenditures related to their support of electoral campaigns, but the information is not required to be publicly available. A MODERATE score is also earned where regulations exist, but only apply to electoral campaigns of one actor (whether political party or individual candidate).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        No such law exists.

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        35
        Score
        0
        In practice, to what extent do third-party actors (foundations, think tanks, unions, political action committees, etc.) report itemized contributions received and expenditures to an oversight authority?More about indicator

        The contributions and expenditures of third-party actors, specifically in the context of elections, are not covered by any law on party finance, electoral campaigns or elections. This is mainly because, according to the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, only natural persons are allowed to make donations to political parties and individual candidates. For third-party actors (such as foundations, think tanks, unions, etc.), it is strictly forbidden to make donations, among others in order to contribute to the electoral campaign (cf. indicator 16). As a consequence of this ban for third-party actors, they are not obliged to report on their contributions and expenditures to the Control Commission. This is confirmed by Control Commission secretary Paul Muls, as well as by party finance experts Bart Maddens and Jean Faniel.

        Nevertheless, Maddens slightly nuances this. He adds that although there are no specific legal provisions that oblige third-party actors to report to the Control Commission, they are often regulated by some more general laws. In many cases, third-party actors are regulated by the law on non-profit associations, international non-profit associations and foundations or by the code of companies. They should of course comply with all the regulations in these laws, including the regulations concerning disclosure and publication of financial information. However, these legal provisions do not focus on elections or on political spending, and financial information should be reported to the National Bank of Belgium rather than to the Control Commission.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where all third-party actors report to an oversight authority both itemized contributions received and itemized expenditures.

        A 50 score is earned where third-party actors report to an oversight authority either itemized contributions received or expenditures, but not both. A 50 score is also earned where the reports refer only to one type of third-party actor, but do not cover others.

        A 0 score is earned where third-party actors rarely or never report itemized contributions received or expenditures.

        Sources

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 16bis. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434

        Law on non-profit associations, international non-profit associations and foundations. 1921. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&cn=1921062701&table_name=wet

        Code of companies. 1999. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1999050769

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        36
        Score
        0
        In practice, to what extent can journalists and citizens easily access the financial information of third party actors, including the political spending of those actors in support of political parties and individual candidates?More about indicator

        Control Commission secretary Paul Muls and party finance experts Bart Maddens and Jean Faniel all stress that there are no legal regulations on the contributions and expenditures of third-party actors (such as foundations, think tanks, unions, etc.) in the context of electoral campaigns. This is mainly because third-party actors are not allowed to make donations to political parties and individual candidates. As a consequence, there is no financial information available concerning the political spending of third-party actors in support of political parties and individual candidates (cf. indicators 34 and 35). And therefore, journalists and citizens cannot access this financial information.

        Nevertheless, Maddens slightly nuances this. He adds that although there are no specific legal provisions that oblige third-party actors to report on political spending (since they are not allowed to make direct contributions to parties and candidates), they are often regulated by some more general laws. In many cases, third-party actors are regulated by the law on non-profit associations, international non-profit associations and foundations or by the code of companies. In that case, they should of course comply with all the regulations in these laws, including the regulations concerning disclosure and publication of financial information. As a consequence, general financial information of third-party actors might be available (according to the specific legal status of the actor) on the website of the National Bank of Belgium at the Central Balance Sheet Office. Thus, although there is no focus on political spending in these financial reports, the reports are publicly available.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) all relevant financial information is freely available online or in hard copy at the cost of photocopying, 2) it can be obtained within two days of requesting it, and 3) it is in a machine readable format (for example in csv or xml format).

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) information is available but in some cases is incomplete or lacking detail, 2) obtaining complete information takes up to a month, or 3) it's not necessarily in machine readable format.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) the information is not publicly available, or 2) obtaining it takes more than three months, or 3) the cost of obtaining it is prohibitive for the regular citizen.

        Sources

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434

        Law on non-profit associations, international non-profit associations and foundations. 1921. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&cn=1921062701&table_name=wet

        Code of companies. 1999. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1999050769

        National Bank of Belgium, Central Balance Sheet Office, 2014, http://nbb.be/pub/0300000000/0301010000.htm?l=en.

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        37
        Score
        --
        Open Question: Please describe how third party-actors (even if they are not regulated by your country's laws) obtain contributions and spend in support of political parties and/or individual candidates.More about indicator

        Although third-party actors are not allowed to make contributions to political parties and individual candidates (cf. indicator 16), party finance experts Bart Maddens and Jean Faniel argue that they can to some extent circumvent this regulation: it is possible for third-party actors to conduct a campaign in support of a party or candidate, independent of the party or candidate. But if a third-party actor conducts such a campaign, the costs for the campaign will be at the expense of the party or candidate concerned (i.e. the sum spent by the third party will be subtracted from the spending limit of the party or candidate), even if they were not involved in the set-up of the campaign: according to article 4 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, expenses made by third parties in support of parties or candidates are considered as the parties or candidates' electoral expenses, which means that these expenses should be reported by the party or candidate concerned, and not by the third-party actor who actually did the expenses.

        So, third-party actors can campaign at the expense of parties and candidates. But parties and candidates can avoid that these electoral expenses are subtracted from their spending limit and should be reported by themselves. To do so, they should request the third party the termination of this campaign by registered letter, immediately after becoming acquainted with the campaign conducted by the third party. A copy of the letter, accompanied or not by the written approval of the third parties to terminate the campaign, should then be sent to the president of the head office of the constituency. If this is done, the costs for the electoral campaign will not be considered as electoral expenses and will not be at the expense of the party or candidate concerned.

        Nevertheless, both Maddens and Faniel argue that this regulation makes it possible for parties and candidates to circumvent the spending caps to a certain extent. If a third-party actor campaigns in their favor, they only have to send them a letter asking to terminate the campaign. Once this is done, the expenses made for this campaign will not be at their expense, but completely at the expense of the third party, whether or not that third party terminates the campaign. Third-party actors, on the other hand, can circumvent the legislation concerning contributions, since such campaigns are set up independently of parties or candidates and are as such not regulated by the law.

        Consequently, no financial information on third-party actor campaign spending is available.

        In practice, however, such situations only arrive very rarely. In the run-up to the elections of May 25, 2014, for instance, there were no reports on third-party campaigns in support of a party or candidate. According to Maddens and Faniel, as well as to Control Commission secretary Paul Muls, there has only been one clear example in the recent past, namely in the run-up to the local elections of October 14, 2012. During that campaign period, a large advertisement was published in several Flemish newspapers, under the heading 'Nu Anders' ('Now Differently'), in which several Antwerp entrepreneurs asked to vote differently and "to finally bring about change in the rigid political landscape of Antwerp". In this campaign, however, no specific parties or candidates were mentioned, although it was quite clear that the advertisement was in favor of the Flemish-nationalist party N-VA. Moreover, the advertisement was published anonymously (Parl. Doc. Flemish Parliament, Stuk 1941). Further, acording to Maddens, it sometimes happens that the Flemish movement sets up a campaign "in favor of Flemish independence". But these campaigns are rather marginal and don't refer to only one party (it might support, for example, both N-VA and Vlaams Belang, two parties supporting Flemish independence). These examples clearly show that there are some loopholes in the law, making it possible for third-party actors to (rather implicitly) spend in favor of or against political parties and candidates, without violating the law concerning contributions. In practice, however, third-party actors mostly refrain from using these loopholes: electoral campaigns in Belgium are largely a business of political parties and individual candidates, without any interference of third parties.

        Scoring Criteria

        To answer this question please: 1) list the types of third-party actors that exist in your country and describe how they work to influence campaigns, 2) explain how important such actors are or not in the context of campaigns, including whether their expenditures are substantial in relation to that of political parties and individual candidates, and 3) if documented evidence indicates they circumvent laws intended to regulate political finance, please explain how and include references to the evidence.

        Sources

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 4. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434

        Parl. Doc. Flemish Parliament, Stuk 1941 (2012-2013) - Nr. 1, March 14, 2013, pp. 5-6, http://docs.vlaamsparlement.be/docs/stukken/2012-2013/g1941-1.pdf.

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    Monitoring and Enforcement

    More about category
    composite
    38
    • expand button!
      Monitoring Capabilities
      More about category
      • expand button!
        38
        Score
        NO
        In law, political finance information is monitored by an independent oversight authority.More about indicator

        No such law exists: the oversight authority, the Control commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, is a committee of the legislature. Consequently, it cannot be considered as an independent or non-political authority monitoring party finance in an objective way.

        Article 1 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties defines the Control Commission as "a commission composed of seventeen members of the Chamber of representatives and four experts, of whom two Dutch-speaking and two French-speaking, nominated by the Chamber of representatives."

        The organization and the day-to-day operations of the Control Commission are mainly regulated by its Statutes. These statutes are binding, but they do not have a legal status or legal character, as they are not incorporated in a law. Consequently, the Commission can decide to modify its statutes, if deemed necessary, without having to amend any law.

        Nevertheless, the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties does grant the Control Commission monitoring authority. The Commission for instance verifies the parties' annual financial reports and the parties and candidates' post-election financial reports.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) an independent oversight authority is mandated to monitor political finance information, and 2) the authority has investigation and audit powers.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the independent oversight authority is mandated to monitor political finance information, but doesn't have investigation or audit powers.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 1. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

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        39
        Score
        NO
        In law, high-level appointments to the oversight authority are based on merit.More about indicator

        No such law exists.

        According to article 1 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties, the Control Commission is "composed of seventeen members of the Chamber of representatives and four experts, of whom two Dutch-speaking and two French-speaking, nominated by the Chamber of representatives. The Commission is presided by the president of the Chamber of representatives. [...] After each complete renewal of the Chamber of representatives, the Chamber of representatives appoints its representatives and the experts within the Control Commission." This article clearly shows that there are no merit-based appointments: the president of the Chamber of representatives automatically becomes the president of the Commission, and the other members of the Commission are just appointed within the Chamber of representatives, according to no (clear) criteria.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) high-level appointments must be based on merit in a public appointment process; and 2) appointees must be free of conflicts of interest due to personal loyalties, family connections, political party affiliations, business partners or other biases.

        A MODERATE score is earned where high-level appointments must be based on merit in a public appointment process, but the regulations don't forbid appointments involving conflicts of interest or other biases.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 1. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

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        40
        Score
        0
        In practice, to what extent are high-level appointments to the oversight authority based on merit?More about indicator

        First of all, there are no real high level positions in the Control Commission, as is illustrated by the Commission's statutes. The general direction of the Commission is mainly determined by the law, in which the tasks of the Commission are laid down. Neither the president, nor the Commission members or the Commission's secretaries have the power to steer the Commission in a certain direction. While the secretaries prepare all the files, the Commission members take the final decisions. The president only steers the Commission meetings in the right direction.

        Concerning these different positions within the Commission, no appointments are based on clear criteria or on merit, as explained by Commission secretary Paul Muls. (1) The president of the Chamber of representatives automatically acts as the Commission's chairperson. And the decision on who becomes the Chamber president is a pure political decision. (2) Next to that, the Commission is composed of seventeen members of the Chamber of representatives. However, the political parties can decide themselves who they send to the Control Commission as delegates. Although there are no criteria for making this decision, the parties often delegate (among others) their floor leader/their chairman of the parliamentary party group. (3) Since May 25, 2014, the law stipulates that four experts should be part of the Control Commission. These are the only positions for which there is an advertised competition. On August 18, 2014, a call for candidates for these positions was published in the Belgian Official Gazette. However, secretary Muls admits that at this point (September 2014), it is not clear yet how these experts will eventually be selected. Not only is the call for candidates very general, without a clear profile of the expert position, but also are there no clear criteria yet on the basis of which the experts will be selected. Therefore, it is not guaranteed that their selection will be based on merit. (4) Finally, the Commission's secretaries are appointed on the basis of internal decisions within the Chamber of representatives. Moreover, secretary Muls mentioned that he already holds this position since the establishment of the Commission in 1989. Since then, there have been no public vetting processes to attract other candidates.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) there is an advertised competition and public vetting process, 2) candidates with the most merit and without conflicts of interest or other biases are appointed.

        A 50 score is earned where the public competition is usually advertised and the vetting process public, but exceptions exist. A 50 score is also earned where candidates with the most merit and without conflicts of interest or other biases are appointed but exceptions exist.

        A 0 score is earned where there's rarely or never a public competition, or appointees are rarely selected on merit or without conflicts of interest or other biases.

        Sources

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, Oproep tot kandidaten voor de mandaten van expert (Call for candidates for the mandates of expert), August 18, 2014, http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi/articlebody.pl?language=nl&caller=summary&pubdate=14-08-18&numac=2014018274.

        Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, Statuten van de Commissie (Statutes of the Commission), 2014, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/pdf_sections/publications/reglement/Controle%20op%20de%20verkiezingsuitgaven%20-%20b%20statuten%20van%20de%20commissie%20NTC.pdf.

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        41
        Score
        NO
        In law, the independence of high-level appointees is guaranteed.More about indicator

        No such law exists. As covered in more detail in #42, the Control Commission is not an independent authority, as it is a committee of the legislature, and there fore the independence of the members is not guaranteed.

        The law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties only stipulates that four experts will be part of the Control Commission, "of whom two Dutch-speaking and two French-speaking, nominated by the Chamber of representatives" (Article 1). There are no legal stipulations concerning security of tenure or removal processes. At this moment, there even is no information available yet on the overall employments conditions of these experts. This should still be decided on.

        Concerning decision-making, the law grants the Control Commission (and thus its members) monitoring authority. The Commission is legally empowered (and obliged) to verify the parties' annual financial reports and the parties and candidates' post-election financial reports. Moreover, the Commission can decide on sanctions for political parties. But as already mentioned in indicator 38, the main problem is the aspect of independence of the Commission and the Commission members. As all members are politicians, apart from the four experts, party-political decisions might occur (at least in theory).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) appointees have the authority or mandate to review cases and issue decisions, 2) the law establishes security of tenure, and 3) removal or disciplinary actions are based on due process conducted by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        A MODERATE score is earned where appointees have the authority or mandate to review cases and issue decisions, BUT one of the second two conditions mentioned in the YES criteria is not met.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 1. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

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        42
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        0
        In practice, to what extent is the independence of high-level appointees guaranteed?More about indicator

        First of all, there are no real high level appointees in the Control Commission, as is illustrated by the Commission's statutes. The general direction of the Commission is mainly determined by the law, in which the tasks of the Commission are laid down. Neither the president, nor the Commission members or the Commission's secretaries have the power to steer the Commission in a certain direction.

        Next to that, the Control commission is not an independent authority, since it is a committee of the legislature. Therefore, the independence of the members is not guaranteed, as is confirmed by Commission secretary Paul Muls. (1) The president of the Chamber of representatives automatically acts as the Commission's chairperson. And the decision on who becomes the Chamber president is a pure political decision, made after the elections. Therefore, the person holding this position might (or might not) change after elections, depending on the electoral results. (2) Next to that, the Commission is composed of seventeen members of the Chamber of representatives. Hence the composition of the Control Commission is dependent on the composition of the Chamber. Therefore, the Commission members might (or might not) change after elections, depending on the electoral results. Moreover, the political parties can decide themselves who they send to the Control Commission as delegates. As a consequence, the Commission members are also dependent on the goodwill of their party for their position in the Commission. (3) Since May 25, 2014, the law stipulates that four experts should be part of the Control Commission. On August 18, 2014, a call for candidates for these positions was published in the Belgian Official Gazette. However, this call for candidates was formulated in very general terms, without any information on the term of office. Secretary Muls admits that at this point (September 2014), it is not clear yet what the exact conditions of these expert positions will be. (4) Finally, the Commission's secretaries can be considered as the most independent positions concerning the Control Commission. As public servants, they are not dependent on political decisions. Secretary Muls, for instance, already holds this position since the establishment of the Commission in 1989. On the other hand, however, there are no well specified term of offices for this position either.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where all of the following conditions are met: 1) appointees review cases and issue decisions without fear or favor from other branches of government, and 2) appointees are granted security of tenure and 3) no appointees are removed, disciplined or transferred without due process by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        A 50 score is earned where any of the following conditions apply: 1) appointees generally operate without fear or favor from other branches of government but exceptions exist, or 2) some but not all appointees are granted security of tenure, or 3) appointees are occasionally removed, disciplined or transferred without due process by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        A 0 score is earned where at least one of the following conditions apply: 1) appointees operate with fear or favor from other branches of government, or 2) are not granted security of tenure, or 3) are usually removed, disciplined or transferred without observing due process by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        Sources

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, Oproep tot kandidaten voor de mandaten van expert (Call for candidates for the mandates of expert), August 18, 2014, http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi/articlebody.pl?language=nl&caller=summary&pubdate=14-08-18&numac=2014018274.

        Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, Statuten van de Commissie (Statutes of the Commission), 2014, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/pdf_sections/publications/reglement/Controle%20op%20de%20verkiezingsuitgaven%20-%20b%20statuten%20van%20de%20commissie%20NTC.pdf.

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        43
        Score
        --
        Open Question: How does decision-making work in the oversight authority?More about indicator

        In the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, there are three main actors. The Commission itself is composed of seventeen members of the Chamber of representatives and four experts, of whom two Dutch-speaking and two French-speaking. They take the final decisions on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties. These decisions are based on the preparatory work done by the two Commission secretaries. It should be noted, however, that these secretaries are public servants, and as such not part of the Commission itself. But as back office they do play an important role for the Commission's work. Finally, the Commission is presided by the president of the Chamber of representatives. The president steers the Commission meetings in the right direction. Thus, it can be stated that the oversight authority and the decision-making body coincide and are largely one and the same actor.

        According to the regulations of the Control Commission and according to articles 7 to 10 of the statutes of the Control Commission, the Commission has four central tasks. Commission secretary Paul Muls confirms that, in practice, the Commission applies itself diligently to all of these four tasks. (1) First of all, the Commission has to investigate the financial reports on the parties and candidates' electoral expenses (cf. indicators 22 and 28) and to decide on the accuracy and the completeness of these reports. In case of violations of the law, the Commission has to decide on sanctions as well. (2) Next to that, the Commission has to investigate the financial reports on the political parties' annual accounts (cf. indicator 23) and to decide on the approval of these reports. In case of violations of the law, the Commission has to decide on sanctions as well. (3) Thirdly, the Commission has to investigate whether there have been violations of the law concerning donations (cf. indicators 9, 10, 11, 13 and 14). Here as well, the Commission has to decide on sanctions in case of violations of the law. (4) Finally, the Commission has to monitor the official announcements and information campaigns of the government. More specifically, the Commission has to investigate if an announcement or an information campaign intends promoting the personal image of one or more members of the government or of one of the presidents of the federal Chambers. If this is the case, the Commission has to decide on sanctions.

        When making decision, a majority is always required. There is, however, a difference between two types of decisions. In the case of the official announcements and information campaigns of the government (4), a simple majority of votes in both language groups (Dutch-speaking and French-speaking) of the Commission is required for making decisions. When deciding on the electoral expenses, the annual financial reports or donations (1, 2 and 3), on the other hand, a two-thirds majority of the votes is required, under the condition that at least two third of the members of the Commission attend the meeting.

        To conclude, it should be mentioned once more that the Control Commission is mainly composed of members of the Chamber of representatives. Therefore, researchers Jean Faniel and Gert-Jan Put state that it is self-evident that the decision-making process is politicized, as the involved actors are politicians and are accountable to party leaderships, rather than to some independent body or authority. According to Commission secretary Paul Muls, however, such statements should be nuanced: the composition of the Commission does not prevent it from working effectively. Moreover, he claims that there is a strict supervision and control of the parties' finances, especially because the Commission members are mainly politicians. The Commission members of the several political parties realize that the finances of their own party and candidates will be controlled accurately by their opponents, thus being rigorous and strict themselves when reviewing the finances of their opponents. This can be considered as a form of peer review.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please describe: 1) the composition of the decision-making body within the oversight authority, 2) the type of decisions it's allowed to make and makes in practice, and 3) in which cases majority is required. If there have been well substantiated complaints about the decision-making process being ineffective or politicized please explain.

        Sources

        Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, Huishoudelijk reglement van de Commissie (Regulations of the Commission), 2014, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/pdf_sections/publications/reglement/Controle%20op%20de%20verkiezingsuitgaven%20-%20c%20huishoudelijk%20reglement%20NTC.pdf.

        Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, Statuten van de Commissie (Statutes of the Commission), 2014, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/pdf_sections/publications/reglement/Controle%20op%20de%20verkiezingsuitgaven%20-%20b%20statuten%20van%20de%20commissie%20NTC.pdf.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Gert-Jan Put, Researcher of the Research Foundation - Flanders, August 21, 2014, Leuven.

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        44
        Score
        75
        In practice, to what extent does the authority have sufficient capacity to monitor political finance regulations?More about indicator

        According to Paul Muls, secretary of the Control Commission, the Commission has sufficient capacity to perform the tasks imposed by the law and its regulations. First of all, the Control Commission does not need a large budget, since it mainly depends on its administrative staff to monitor political finance regulations. There is no specific budget needed to carry out certain assignments.

        Concerning staff, Muls argues that the Commission has, in general, sufficient personnel to monitor and review all incoming financial reports: in the end, the Commission is able to apply itself diligently to all of its tasks. However, Muls slightly nuances this by pointing out that the Commission's staff is limited to only two secretaries. These two public servants have to monitor and review all reports and prepare the documents on the basis of which the Commission takes its final decisions. As a consequence of this rather high workload for the secretaries, they are not able to review and investigate all reports in great detail. When, for instance, the financial reports on the electoral expenses of the political parties and individual candidates have to be examined after the elections, it concerns more than one thousand documents. Although the Commission's staff can review these documents cursorily for compliance with the regulatory requirements, it is not possible to verify all amounts separately mentioned in the reports. GRECO (Group of States against Corruption) confirms that this might indeed be a problem: the organization has “strong doubts about the system’s capabilities for exerting anything but formal control over the parties’ accounts and election campaigns. The federal control commission and the regional commissions have meagre human resources and reserves of expertise (this depends substantially on the secretariat since the commission’s membership changes)”.

        It should be noted, however, that the Commission should in some cases, established by law, obtain the advice of the Court of Audit before taking any decisions (and in some other cases, the Commission has the right to obtain an advice in order to be better informed). The main advantage of this approach is not only that the Court of Audit has a larger staff to review all reports in detail, but also that the personnel is more specialized. While the Commission secretaries first of all have a profound knowledge of the regulatory framework, the Court of Audit staff is mainly specialized in finance and bookkeeping. As a consequence of this assistance by the Court of Audit, the Control Commission's task is made lighter (although GRECO argues that the Court of Audit “regards its own work too as being essentially formal and only capable of detecting fairly blatant misdemeanours or certain anomalies when the data are compared”). Moreover, the competences of the Court of Audit will be slightly expanded from January 1, 2015 onwards. The Court of Audit will have more possibilities to investigate the political parties' financial reports and other related documents and, in this way, to support the Control Commission. This should make it possible, in the end, to improve the effectiveness of enforcement by the Control Commission.

        Therefore, as is also confirmed by party finance expert Bart Maddens, it can be concluded that the Control Commission has, in general, sufficient budget as well as staff to monitor and review all incoming financial reports, although there is still some room for improvement in order to make an adequate substantive control possible.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) the authority has sufficient budget to monitor all incoming reports, and 2) it has sufficient staff to review all incoming reports.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) the authority has insufficient budget to monitor all incoming reports, or 2) its staff can only review half of all incoming reports.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) the authority can't fulfill most of its essential functions due to budget constraints, or 2) its staff only has the capacity to review 25% or less of all incoming reports.

        Sources

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        GRECO (Group of States against Corruption), Third Evaluation Round - Evaluation Report on Belgium - Transparency of Political Party Funding, May 15, 2009, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/evaluations/round3/GrecoEval3%282008%298BelgiumTwo_EN.pdf.

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        45
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        0
        In practice, to what extent does the authority conduct investigations or audits when necessary?More about indicator

        Both political parties and individual candidates should report on the contributions received and expenditures made during the electoral campaign period. These financial reports should first of all be sent to the president of the head office of the constituencies. The head office presidents draw up a first investigatory report on the electoral expenses of the political parties and the individual candidates, as well as on any possible violations of the law. These reports are then sent to the president of the Control Commission.

        In a second step, the Control Commission verifies the reports drawn up by the head office presidents. In this step, the parties and candidates' reports only serve as explanatory annexes to the presidents' reports. The Commission secretaries then investigate the accuracy and the completeness of the presidents' reports. In other words, the Commission reviews whether all regulatory requirements concerning electoral expenses and reporting are met. In this step, the Commission is also obliged to obtain the advice of the Court of Audit. This investigation should start at the latest on the 91th day after the elections (for the most recent elections on May 25, 2014, this means that the investigation had to start at the latest on August 23, 2014).

        Beyond these initial compliance review, however, the Commission does not carry out any other investigations, as stated by Commission secretary Paul Muls and party finance expert Bart Maddens. Since the compliance review of the financial reports already takes a few months, there is no time left for other in-depth investigations. Concerning the most recent elections, for instance, the compliance review will probably only end at the end of 2014. Therefore, the Control Commission limits itself to the standard investigation stipulated by the law.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where the authority conducted at least three investigations or audits during the most recent electoral campaign.

        A 50 score is earned where the authority conducted at least one investigation or audit during the most recent electoral campaign.

        A 0 score is earned where the authority didn't conduct any investigation or audit during the most recent electoral campaign.

        Sources

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, Huishoudelijk reglement van de Commissie (Regulations of the Commission), 2014, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/pdf_sections/publications/reglement/Controle%20op%20de%20verkiezingsuitgaven%20-%20c%20huishoudelijk%20reglement%20NTC.pdf.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 53 2398/001, June 4, 2012, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=53&dossierID=2398.

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        46
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        0
        In practice, to what extent does the authority publish the results of investigations or audits?More about indicator

        Since there are no in-depth investigations or audits apart from the initial compliance reviews of the parties and candidates' financial reports, there are no results published concerning such investigations. This is confirmed by Control Commission secretary Paul Muls. He argues that since the compliance review of the financial reports already takes a few months, there is no time left for other in-depth investigations. Concerning the most recent elections, for instance, the compliance review will probably only end at the end of 2014. Therefore, the Control Commission limits itself to the standard investigation imposed by the law.

        The results of the compliance review of the parties and candidates' financial reports, on the other hand, are published. This is confirmed by party finance expert Bart Maddens and researcher Gert-Jan Put. They both state that there are no in-depth investigatory reports available, but there are reports on the initial compliance review with an overview of the expenses of parties and candidates and violations of the law.

        In practice, however, it can take a long time until these compliance reports are published. Concerning the elections of May 25, 2014, for instance, the compliance review will probably only end at the end of 2014. This means that the report will only be published at the earliest more than six month after the elections. Moreover, the report on the federal elections of June 2010 was only published in June 2012 (Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, 53 2398/001), and the report on the federal elections of June 2007 was published in January 2010 (Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, 52 2371/001). This clearly illustrates that, in practice, it can take up to two years or more until the reports on the parties and candidates' electoral expenses are publicly available.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where the authority publishes reports of all its investigations or audits a month or less after their conclusion.

        A 50 score is earned where reports are available to the public more than a month after the conclusion of the investigation or audit.

        A 0 score is earned where reports are not available to the public or they become available after six months or more after conclusion of the investigation or audit. A 0 score is also earned where only summaries of the reports are publicly available.

        Sources

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Gert-Jan Put, Researcher of the Research Foundation - Flanders, August 21, 2014, Leuven.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 53 2398/001, June 4, 2012, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=53&dossierID=2398.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 52 2371/001, January 19, 2010, http://www.dekamer.be/kvvcr/showpage.cfm?section=/flwb&cfm=flwbn.cfm?legislat=52&dossierID=2371.

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      Enforcement Capabilities
      More about category
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        47
        Score
        YES
        In law, there are sanctions in response to political finance violations.More about indicator

        The law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties clearly defines violations of the law concerning political finance, as well as sanctions for these violations.

        When a political party exceeds the spending limit of 1,000,000 euro (1,300,000 US Dollar) during the electoral campaign period, article 13 of this law stipulates that "the involved political party shall lose, during the subsequent period set forth by the Control Commission and for a period of at least one month and of maximum four months, the right to receive the subsidy specified in article 15." This means that the party can lose its federal subsidy - one of its main sources of direct public funding - for one or more months.

        Article 14 of the law concerns individual candidates and refers to four kinds of offenders: "(1) whoever has made expenses or commitments for electoral propaganda without having notified the president of the main office concerned; (2) whoever has deliberately made expenses or commitments for electoral propaganda exceeding his spending limit; (3) whoever has failed to declare his electoral expenses and/or the origin of funds within the term set forth in the Electoral code; (4) whoever has failed to observe the provisions set forth in article 5 [i.e. a ban of the use of several propaganda tools during the electoral campaign period]." These violations can be sanctioned with an imprisonment of eight days up to one month and a fine of 50 euro (64 US Dollar) up to 500 euro (635 US Dollar), or one of these penalties.

        Thirdly, article 15ter of the same law states that "when a political party proves itself, by its own act or by the act of its components, lists, candidates or elected representatives, and in a clear manner and based upon several corresponding signs, to be hostile towards the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of November 4, 1950, as approved by the law of May 13, 1955, and amended by additional protocols in force in Belgium, the granted subsidy [i.e. the direct public funding granted by the federal Parliament] shall be withdrawn by the Control Commission within fifteen days, if the general assembly within the administrative division of the Council of State decides thereupon, and up to the amount decided by the Council of State."

        According to article 16bis of this law, a political party can as well lose its right to this subsidy if the party accepts a donation in violation of the provisions stated in the law, up to twice the amount of the donation. Next to that, this article stipulates that any person who, acting as a candidate or a political representative, accepts a donation in violation of the provisions stated in the law, shall incur penalties equivalent to 26 francs (0.82 US Dollar) up to 100,000 francs (3,150 US Dollar). Similar sanctions are possible, according to article 16ter, when a political party or one of its components or a political representative fails to submit, or in case of delayed submission, the overview of the donations received.

        Finally, article 25 of the same law states that "failure to approve a political party's annual financial report by the Control Commission, as well as failure to submit the report or a delayed submission of this report by the party, shall involve loss of the subsidy to be granted to the party during the subsequent period set forth by the Control Commission and for a period of at least one month and of maximum four months."

        It is clear, to conclude, that the sanctions for political parties are rather limited: they can only lose their public subsidy for a certain time period and/or up to a certain amount. Mainly because of this reason, some new regulations concerning sanctions will be introduced in the law on January 1, 2015. In general, these new regulations provide the Control Commission with more possibilities to sanction parties and candidates, ranging from a simple warning, over an administrative fine, up to the withdrawal of the subsidy (for parties) or the suspension or even the revocation of the mandate (for elected candidates).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) the law clearly defines violations of political finance laws, and 2) there are clearly defined sanctions for specific violations.

        A MODERATE score is earned where violations are clearly defined but sanctions for specific violations are not.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Articles 13, 14, 15ter, 16bis, 16ter and 25. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.

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        48
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        MODERATE
        In law, the oversight authority has the power to impose sanctions.More about indicator

        In law, there are no articles or regulations stipulating that the Control Commission should have approval from either the executive or the legislative before imposing sanctions or before sending cases to public prosecution. Thus, the Control Commission (although being a committee of the federal Parliament) can act autonomously.

        Concerning sanctions towards political parties, the Control Commission can act completely independently. The main sanction for political parties is the withdrawal of the subsidy granted by the federal Parliament (cf. indicator 47). If the Control Commission decides that a party should be sanctioned and should be deprived from this direct public funding for one or more months, this sanction can be imposed immediately, since the Control Commission is part of the federal Parliament and thus is able to impose the sanction directly by not paying out the subsidy anymore. No intervention of the public prosecutor or a court is needed, nor an approval of the executive or the parliament as a whole.

        Concerning sanctions towards individual candidates, the Control Commission should send cases to public prosecution. However, the Control Commission can do this independently and does not need approval of any other body or authority. For instance, article 14 of the law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties stipulates that "any violation specified in §1 [of article 14, cf. indicator 47] can be prosecuted either at the initiative of the public prosecutor, either on the basis of a report made by the Control Commission, either on the basis of a complaint by any interested person". Thus, if the Control Commission is of the opinion that a candidate violated the law, the Commission can send this case to public prosecution. On the specific sanctions to be imposed, on the other hand, the Control Commission cannot decide. This decision is taken by the courts. Still according to article 14, however, "the Control Commission submits to the public prosecutor a reasoned opinion on the complaints". Thus, the Commission has a say in this matter, at least to some extent.

        The Control Commission can only impose sanctions directly on political parties (e.g. by withdrawing their public funding). If individual candidates violate the law, the Commission can only send the case to the public prosecutor. The court will then take a final decision and, if deemed necessary, impose a sanction. The role of the Commission is then limited to giving an advice on the case, but nothing more. Thus, the Commission depends on the court for imposing sanctions on candidates.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) the oversight authority has the power to impose sanctions, and 2) it can directly prosecute violators before the courts or is independent to send cases to public prosecution.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the oversight authority has the power to impose sanctions, but it can't directly prosecute violators before the courts or is not independent to send cases to public prosecution.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Law regarding the limitation and the control of the electoral expenses for the election of the Chamber of Representatives, the financing and the open accounting of the political parties. Article 14. 1989. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgiloi/changelg.pl?language=nl&la=N&table_name=wet&cn=1989070434.+

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        49
        Score
        50
        In practice, to what extent do offenders comply with sanctions imposed?More about indicator

        Party finance experts Bart Maddens and Jean Faniel as well as Control Commission secretary Paul Muls all confirm that until now (September 2014), there have been no documented instances of sanctions imposed as a result of violations of the law in the context of the federal elections of May 25, 2014. This is mainly because political parties and individual candidates are, in general, very cautious and prudent during the electoral campaign period, in order not to break the law and to avoid sanctions.

        In the past, there have only been very few documented instances on sanctions as well. This is first of all because the Control Commission cannot impose sanctions itself on individual candidates. The Commission can only send cases concerning candidates to public prosecution. The public prosecutor and the court then decide on the sanctions that should be imposed, on the basis of the legal stipulations in the criminal code and the party finance law. However, Control Commission secretary Paul Muls mentions that there is no feedback afterwards from the judiciary to the Control Commission. Therefore, the Control Commission - and by extension the public as a whole - has no idea about the final decisions made by the court. This is confirmed by Bart Maddens, who argues that it is extremely hard to get an overview of the judgments passed by the judiciary concerning violations of the party finance law by individual candidates. Nevertheless, he adds that there have been no documented instances of judgments or court orders concerning candidates in the past. Moreover, he supposes that many cases are in the end dismissed, since they often concern only minor violations of the law as a result of ignorance, rather than major intentional violations. On the other hand, it can be expected that if sanctions are imposed by the judiciary, candidates are obliged to comply with these sanctions since the criminal code is applicable. But since the Control Commission cannot impose sanctions directly to individual candidates, there is no further information available on these sanctions and their compliance.

        On the other hand, the Control Commission is able to impose sanctions directly on political parties that violate the law. As a consequence, the Commission can verify whether the sanctions were complied with or not. However, both Bart Maddens and Jean Faniel mention that political parties only very rarely tend to violate the legal provisions. As a consequence, the Control Commission only seldom has to impose sanctions. In the past, this has mainly been the case for parties that failed to submit their annual financial report. This has been the case, for instance, for the Parti Populaire in 2011 and the Front National in 2010. In both cases the Control Commission concluded that the federal subsidy for these parties should be withdrawn because of their failure to submit a report. However, these parties did not receive a subsidy at that moment, as a consequence of which the sanction could not be imposed. In 2008, on the other hand, the Front National did not submit a financial report as well, but at the moment the Control Commission took its final decision, the party still received a federal subsidy. Therefore, the Commission was able to decide that the subsidy would be withdrawn from December 2009 until March 2010. The Front National automatically had to comply with this sanction, since it simply no longer received its subsidy. This last example moreover shows that there sometimes are repeat offenders. The Front National not only failed to submit a report in 2008 and 2010, but also in 2007 and 2009. However, this is the only clear case of a repeat offender.

        Therefore, it can be concluded that sanctions are only imposed very rarely in Belgium, since violations of the law only seldom occur. And if there are violations, they often are a result of ignorance, rather than major intentional violations. As a consequence, most offenders are not repeat offenders, although some exceptions exist. Finally, offenders do comply with the sanctions, either because the criminal code is applicable or because they no longer receive their federal subsidy.


        Peer Reviewer comment: Agree. I agree, with a source to add concerning the case of the Front national.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) offenders comply with the sanctions imposed without exception, and 2) they are not repeat offenders.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) offenders usually comply with the sanctions imposed but exceptions exist, or 2) most are not repeat offenders but some exceptions exist.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) offenders rarely comply with the sanctions imposed, or 2) most are repeat offenders.

        Sources

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 52 1968/003, February 10, 2010, p. 40, http://www.lachambre.be/doc/FLWB/pdf/52/1968/52K1968003.pdf.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 53 1425/003, April 19, 2012, p. 46, http://www.lachambre.be/doc/FLWB/pdf/52/1968/52K1968003.pdf.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 53 2173/005, May 11, 2012, p. 52, http://www.lachambre.be/doc/FLWB/pdf/53/2173/53K2173003.pdf.

        Reviewer's sources: M. Göransson, J. Faniel, Le financement et la comptabilité des partis politiques francophones (The funding and the annual accounts of the French-speaking political parties), Courrier hebdomadaire nr. 1989-1990, CRISP, 2008, p.72-74.

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        Open Question: How strong is enforcement, and what impedes more effective enforcement?More about indicator

        One of the most often criticized aspects of the Belgian system of party and campaign funding is the fact that there is no independent control on the political parties' finances. Until the elections of May 25, 2014, the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties was only composed of twenty members of the federal Parliament (ten members of the Chamber of representatives, ten members of the Senate), presided by the presidents of the Chamber and the Senate. This composition of the Control Commission has frequently been criticized, since in this way the political parties are both principal and agent at the same time.

        Party finance expert Bart Maddens often argued that the parties are "both judge and judged" and that "there is no higher authority to monitor the parties' finances" (JTA, Verbeke, 2013). Other actors agree with this criticism. First of all, Jean Faniel and Gert-Jan Put, both familiar with the system of party finance in Belgium, argue as well that the Control Commission cannot take objective decisions on the parties' finances independently, since the Commission is composed of the parties themselves. The extraparliamentary political party B.U.B. (Belgische Unie - Union Belge; 2013) confirms this opinion by stating that "the parties are both judge and judged, because they decide on their funding themselves, instead of letting for instance the Court of Audit decide" and that "there is no or hardly any control on party finance". Finally, international organizations as well have already pointed out this issue. For instance, GRECO (Group of States against Corruption; 2009) recommended the Belgian legislator "to set up a system - unified if possible - to supervise the financing of parties and election campaigns, that would be as independent as possible from the political parties." Transparency International Belgium (2012) had the same opinion: "the Parliamentary Comission of the federal Parliament in its current composition is both judge and judged." Therefore, "Transparency International Belgium argues that the federal parliamentary commission that monitors electoral spending [...] should not only be composed of MPs, but should also include autonomous external experts."

        As a reaction to these criticisms, but mainly in response to GRECO's recommendations, the federal legislator decided to alter the composition of the Control Commission. Since the elections of May 25, 2014, the Commission is composed of seventeen members of the Chamber of representatives and four experts, of whom two Dutch-speaking and two French-speaking, nominated by the Chamber of representatives (Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, 53 2972/001). According to Control Commission secretary Paul Muls, the introduction of these experts should guarantee the independence of the Control Commission. However, party finance experts Bart Maddens and Jean Faniel doubt whether these four experts will indeed be able to change the internal dynamics within the Commission and to avoid the parties from coming to a compromise without an in-depth discussion. So, despite the addition to the Control Commission of the four experts, the complete independence and objectivity of the Commission is not yet guaranteed, according to some observers.

        However, professor Bart Maddens does welcome another modification of the law, namely that the competences of the Court of Audit will be slightly expanded from January 1, 2015 onwards. The Court of Audit will have more possibilities to investigate the political parties' financial reports and other related documents and, in this way, to support the Control Commission. This should make it possible, in the end, to improve the effectiveness of enforcement by the Control Commission. The question remains, however, whether the Control Commission will, in practice, make use of this support of the Court of Audit and will take objective and independent decisions.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please provide a general explanation of the effectiveness of enforcement, describing: 1) any conditions that may prevent effective enforcement, and 2) explain what are the most urgent areas of reform in the country's political finance system.

        Sources

        JTA, Bart Maddens: 'Politieke partijen zijn tegelijk rechter en partij' (Bart Maddens: 'Political parties are both judge and judged'), De Standaard Online, January 13, 2013, http://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20130113_005.

        T. Verbeke, Partijfinanciering: geen pottenkijkers gewenst (Party finance: prying eyes unwanted), Knack Online, August 16, 2013, http://www.knack.be/nieuws/belgie/partijfinanciering-geen-pottenkijkers-gewenst/article-normal-24742.html.

        B.U.B. (Belgische Unie - Union Belge), Ondoorzichtige partijfinanciering – financement des partis opaque (Opaque party funding), August 25, 2013, http://www.unionbelge.be/?p=7486.

        GRECO (Group of States against Corruption), Third Evaluation Round - Evaluation Report on Belgium - Transparency of Political Party Funding, May 15, 2009, http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/evaluations/round3/GrecoEval3%282008%298BelgiumTwo_EN.pdf.

        Transparency International Belgium, Evaluatie van het Nationale Integriteitssysteem België (Evaluation of the National Integrity System Belgium), 2012, www.transparencybelgium.be/fileadmin/templates/docs/Material/NIS/policypapers/PoilcyPaperN2_NL.pdf.

        Interview with Bart Maddens, Professor at the University of Leuven and leading expert on party finance in Belgium, August 22, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Jean Faniel, Director of the Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (CRISP) and expert on party finance in Belgium, August 26, 2014, Brussels.

        Interview with Gert-Jan Put, Researcher of the Research Foundation - Flanders, August 21, 2014, Leuven.

        Interview with Paul Muls, Secretary of the Control Commission on the electoral expenses and the accounts of political parties, September 2, 2014, Brussels.

        Parl. Doc. Chamber of representatives, Doc. 53 2972/001, July 24, 2014, pp. 4-7, http://www.dekamer.be/FLWB/pdf/53/2972/53K2972001.pdf.

The federal Parliament consists of the Chamber of representatives and the Senate. The Chamber can be considered as the lower house, while the Senate is the upper house.

The 150 members of the Chamber are directly elected through a semi-open (flexible list) proportional system in eleven medium sized electoral districts. There is not only an inter-party competition, but also (to some extent) an intra-party competition, as the number of candidates on the lists is higher than the number of seats a party won. Candidates thus want to win as many personal votes as possible. Consequently, both parties and individual candidates set up a campaign. Therefore, campaigns and campaign funds are managed at both the party and the candidate level (e.g. a spending cap for both parties and candidates).

The Senate, on the other hand, is exclusively composed (since 2014) of representatives from the parliaments of the Regions and the parliaments of the Communities (50 members), and of senators chosen by the former (10 members). This means that the members of the Senate are elected indirectly. The number of representatives a party gets in the Senate is based on the party's electoral result in the regional/Communities' elections.

The head of government (prime minister) is not elected, but only appointed as part of the coalition bargaining process. Although the Constitution mentions the King appoints the members of the federal government, this decision is made by the negotiators of the majority parties (i.e. the party leaders).

The last federal elections were held on May 25, 2014.

'Belgium is a federal state, composed of Communities and Regions' (Constitution, article 1). Therefore, there are several other parliaments next to the federal Parliament, of which four are elected directly: the Flemish Parliament, the Parliament of the German Speaking Community, the Walloon Parliament, the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region and the Parliament of the French Speaking Community (the latter is composed of members of the Walloon and the Brussels' Parliaments).