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Indirect State Funding of Political Parties: Party-State Relations and the Strength of Party Organisation in Western Democracies (ISFPP)
Start date: 01 Jul 2009, End date: 31 Aug 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"State funding for political parties is of critical importance for the viability of democratic governance in Europe and beyond where problematic funding practices have been discovered. Also, the issue nourishes heated discussions about how far these (in principle societal) organisations should be regulated by the state, since, in this process, their societal support tends to decline. In many Western democracies party members holding public office regularly donate a fixed share of their salary to party coffers. These party taxes are a form of indirect state funding complementing (or even substituting) direct state support. Parties differ in whether they collect taxes at all, in how much they collect and in whether they tax political offices only or meritocratic positions as well. Existing research does not account for these differences. To close this gap, the project pursues four goals: 1. To specify the contribution of party taxes to the income of national political parties across the five democracies Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and Ireland. Existing studies tend to refer exclusively to direct state funding, while they categorise party taxes as 'donations' or 'membership fees', thus, underestimate state support for parties. 2. To develop a theoretical framework on the conditions which allow party elites to extract taxes from office-holders, and to combine quantitative and qualitative methods to test it. 3. To capture not only the taxing of MPs but also of meritocratic offices which parties tax capturing the 'informal reach' of political parties (patronage) into state institutions. 4. To assess the relationship between distinct types of state regulation and 'taxing practices' to provide guidance for reform. These goals assure that the project contributes to core debates in political science, sociology and law to advance excellence in research but also maximises its potential for knowledge-transfer in Europe across countries and disciplines."
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