Transparent Political Party Finance (NL0038)
Action Plan: Netherlands Action Plan 2018-2020
Action Plan Cycle: 2018
Lead Institution: Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK)
Support Institution(s): VNG Various national and local parties.
Policy AreasLegislation & Regulation, Legislative, Political Integrity, Subnational
Transparency of the funding of decentralised or local political parties
Start and end dates of the action point: 1 July 2018 - 30 June 2020
Main action owner (organisation) Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK)
Description of the action point
Which social issue does the action point seek to address? • What is important in our democracy is that not only the government itself is transparent, but that other important actors, such as the political parties, are also transparent. This applies to both national and to decentralised or local political parties. Dutch national political parties have to submit annual financial reports and statements of donations and debts to the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) who will then publish these statements.
• Decentralised or local political parties (both local parties and the local sections of national political parties) are only required to have publicly accessible regulations on donations, where they can actually decide on the form of their regulations themselves. However, they are not under any obligation to publish annual financial reports and statements of donations and debts.
What is the action point? • To increase and improve the transparency of the funding of decentralised and local political parties.
• BZK is going to develop a tool in consultation with representatives of decentralised political parties and local governments. These parties will be able to use this instrument to draft and implement the mandatory regulations on donations and to increase transparency with regard to their cash flows on a voluntary basis.
How will the action point contribute to remedying the social issue? • Transparency as regards the cash flows of local political parties contributes to citizens' confidence in local democracy and local governance and thus the connection between citizens and government.
Why is this action point relevant to OGP values? The action point is relevant to the OGP values because it will contribute to more information being released, to a better quality of the information that is released, and to the information becoming more easily accessible to the public. It will thus contribute to more transparency.
Additional information N/A
Milestone with a verifiable result (please note: SMART) Start date: End date:
BZK is going to gauge the concrete need of decentralised and local political parties and local governments and use the results to map these needs. 01 July 2018 01 November 2018
BZK is going to develop a support tool in consultation with decentralised and local political parties and local governments. 01 November 2018 01 May 2019
The support instrument will be implemented and rolled out.
01 May 2018 31 December 2019
BZK will map the extent to which transparency about the funding of decentralised and local political parties has improved. 01 January 2020 Friday 01 July 2020
Name of the responsible person representing the main action owner Joep Severens, BZK
Position, organisational unit
Email and phone number
Other actors involved Authorities involved VNG
Other organisations or bodies (such as community organisations or the private sector) Various national and local parties.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
2. Transparency of the funding of decentralised or local political parties
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:
- To increase and improve the transparency of the funding of decentralised and local political parties.
- BZK is going to develop a tool in consultation with representatives of decentralised political parties and local governments. These parties will be able to use this instrument to draft and implement the mandatory regulations on donations and to increase transparency with regard to their cash flows on a voluntary basis. 
2.1. BZK is going to gauge the concrete need of decentralised and local political parties and local governments and use the results to map these needs.
2.2. BZK is going to develop a support tool in consultation with decentralised and local political parties and local governments.
2.3. The support instrument will be implemented and rolled out.
2.4 BZK will map the extent to which transparency about the funding of decentralised and local political parties has improved.
Start Date: July 2018
End Date: July 2020
Context and Objectives
Public funding for decentralized or local political parties currently does not exist in the Dutch legislation governing the financing of political parties. Only parties who have elected members in either the Second or First Chambers are eligible for financial support from the state. Local and/or decentralized political parties are currently exempted from articles 20-23 of the Dutch Financing of Political Parties Act.  This means that they are not required to register financial contributions and can accept large donations without disclosing such contributions to the public. In a 2007 evaluation, the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) recommended that the Netherlands “take measures to enhance transparency of income and expenditure of political parties at local level.” 
In addition, over the past few years, Dutch society has witnessed a number of local politicians accused of corruption or other malign practices, such as influence peddling  or acting in a conflict of interest, such as the Hooijmaijers  and Van Rey affairs.  Furthermore, there have been reports that organized crime and, for instance, the proceeds of the synthetic drug trade, can find their way to the licit world and financially support politicians at the local level.  Some initiatives by mayors of affected cities have already been deployed to raise more awareness of such risks. 
Against this backdrop, this commitment addresses a highly relevant topic in the Netherlands by aiming to improve the quality and transparency of local governance. It is relevant to the OGP value of access to information, given that previously unavailable information could be disclosed. The milestones are verifiable; for instance, milestone 2.2 mentions that a support tool will be developed in consultation with other stakeholders. From the text it is not immediately clear, however, what the tool is and what it is going to help with. In the explanatory text of the commitment, it mentions it will function as an instrument to increase transparency on donations and cash-flow on a voluntary basis, although it aims to be used to draft and implement mandatory regulations. While it is not specific enough to assess the potential impact as transformative, if this initiative picks up political momentum and is embedded in legislation, this might very well be the case. For now, the potential impact is assessed as moderate.
The IRM researcher recommends the following:
- Stakeholders could look at both income and expenditures of money in politics. Income is particularly relevant from an anti-corruption point of view when considering the possibility of buying influence. In terms of undermining trust and undue influence on the policy process, in-kind donations, political endorsement in the semi-public arena, such as in sports and business, are essential to consider as well. The definition of monetary support to and by a political party would likely need to be reworked, possibly beyond the current legal understanding. The GRECO report also refers to both income and expenditure as areas in which to improve transparency.
- Stakeholders could consider linking this theme to the broader discussion regarding the lack of financial support for local parties. Many stakeholders, including the VNG who are a partner in this commitment, have argued that the state should make financial support available to local/decentralized parties from the central government. By linking the two, one might increase the buy-in for municipalities and could provide political partners (from the entire political spectrum) with the needed ammunition to mobilize political leadership for both topics and present this as a cross-cutting issue. Furthermore, increased transparency, coupled with appropriate financial support to fund local democracy, could significantly enhance integrity in party financing at the local level.
 The complete text of this commitment, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Netherlands_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf
 Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), Evaluation Report on the Netherlands on “Transparency of Party Funding”, http://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=09000016806c7965
 https://www.noordhollandsdagblad.nl/cnt/dmf20181022_75017111/crimineel-aast-op-politieke-invloed and https://www.nemokennislink.nl/publicaties/criminelen-proberen-gemeenteraadsverkiezingen-te-infiltreren/
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