Do many countries publicly fund elections?

Wednesday, July 27, 2022
By Jacob Alabab-Moser

Nearly 70% of 180 countries looked at by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance provide some degree of public funding to political parties, including for elections. About 28% offer none.

The amount of public funding offered varies widely. In a 2016 selection of the 34 member countries then members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, public funding as a percentage of party income ranged from 85% in Belgium to 35% in the U.K.

In the U.S., while limited public campaign financing is available for federal and some state elections, most candidates opt out, given that private fundraising is typically more financially advantageous, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Public election funding advocates such as the Brennan Center for Justice argue that strengthening public election financing would:

  • Reduce the political influence of private donors.
  • Allow less wealthy and well-connected individuals to compete.
  • Increase racial diversity among candidates.
  • Expand voter engagement.
This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
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