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Milking the system": Fighting the abuse of public resources for re-election"

By Alessandra Fontana and Bruno Wilhelm Speck
Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2011:7) 31 p.

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Abuse of state resources for re-election damages democracy creating an unlevel playing field that improves re-election chances of incumbents and negatively influencing the quality of government, since diversion of resources for financing campaigns incurs costs for the institutions involved and may reduce services provided to the public. Efforts to confront the problem require attention not only to politicians abusing these assets but also to the public administration system that supplies such resources. Most efforts however deal only with the first part of the problem. This paper explains the need for an integrated reform strategy, including reforming the electoral system, strengthening political parties, and regulating the financing of parties and elections. But, at the same time, any strategy that aims to reduce the vulnerability of the public sector to political abuse during elections should work to curb the supply of resources through strengthening the civil service, building state monitoring mechanisms and enhancing transparency to allow for media and civil society oversight.

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