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Launching Party Financing for Political Parties in Myanmar

The key issue of political party financing was addressed for the first time in a seminar for political parties in Myanmar, where the challenges with fundraising, accountability and regulation were highlighted.

Report by Thazin Myint, Programme Coordinator, Myanmar

More than 50 representatives from 46 registered political parties in Myanmar explored the role of political parties in party finance during a two-day workshop organised jointly by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Programme (DIPD/NIMD) in Yangon from 28-29 November 2013.

“Money in politics, or political finance, is linked to key aspects of any modern society. Management of political finance is necessary for credible and genuine elections and electoral campaigns because it has the potential to skew competition between contestants. While funds are necessary for political parties to operate it is equally important that an appropriate model of oversight and transparency is developed in each country”, says Magnus Ohman, guest expert for the training.

Political Party Expert Magnus Ohman shares experiences from other countries

Political Party Expert Magnus Ohman shares experiences from other countries

Money in politics
The workshop was a success due to the close collaboration with the Myanmar political parties, the Myanmar Multiparty Democracy Program (initiated by the Netherlands Institute for Parties and Democracy (NIMD) and the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD)) and International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). The workshop gave an introduction to key problems and solutions in political finance, also addressing the global experience of regulating political finance in different countries and how regulations can be enforced. The workshop also highlighted the rules regarding disclosure (financial reporting); bans and limits on contributions and spending; the provision of public funding; the roles of other stakeholders such as civil society and media as well as global lessons learned in the oversight of money in politics.

The workshop also drew out views from key actors in political finance, the Union Election Commission, political parties and CSOs on regulating, enforcing and monitoring; to review existing law and practice in Myanmar and to look comparatively at challenges and solutions from around the world; and to discuss and share potential recommendations for the context of Myanmar.

Experiences are shared locally
“Money matters a lot in political decision making process. But money should only be a ‘tool’ to the process.  Therefore strategies for controlling money in politics must be taken into account,” says U Sao Than Myint, central executive member of the Shan Nationalities Development Party (SNDP).

Brainstorming for group discussion of party finance

Brainstorming for group discussion of party finance

Daw Khine Win Myint, executive member of the Union of Myanmar Federation of National Politics (UMFNP), comments after the seminar that “money is a huge barrier for the small political parties that are facing a lack of political and campaign finances. Unlike the bigger parties, we are on a self-help basis and mainly relying on membership fees and income from organizing the events. To us as representatives from the small parties, today’s workshop is very important because now the voices of the small parties are heard. This way I hope we will together find a solution to have access to funds to take part in the coming election.”

The translated version of the publication on controlling money in politics by Dr. Magnus Ohman was also distributed to the participants. Moreover, a similar training was provided to the Union Election Commission having a key role in the regulation of political party finance.

The political party financing is a longer-term component of MMDP and the parties were also requested to nominate two persons (one from leadership position and another from finance responsible) to set up task team within their parties on the issue. So far 38 parties have shown their interest to form a task team within their parties.

A well-known Myanmar online journal for politics covered a news story about the workshop. See the news here.

For further information, please contact Hanne Lund Madsen, Senior Adviser at DIPD, hlm@dipd.dk or (+45) 38 40 28 02 and Khin Thazin Myint, Myanmar Programme Coordinator, ktmyint.ide@gmail.com or (+95) 9 519 4929.

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