Skip Navigation
Netherlands

Transparent Political Party Finance (NL0038)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Netherlands Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK)

Support Institution(s): VNG Various national and local parties.

Policy Areas

Legislation & Regulation, Legislative, Political Integrity, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: Netherlands Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

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
Contact information
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:

  1. To increase and improve the transparency of the funding of decentralised and local political parties.
  2. 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. [5]

Milestones

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. [6] 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.” [7]

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 [8] or acting in a conflict of interest, such as the Hooijmaijers [9] and Van Rey affairs. [10] 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. [11] Some initiatives by mayors of affected cities have already been deployed to raise more awareness of such risks. [12]

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.

Next steps

The IRM researcher recommends the following:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

[5] The complete text of this commitment, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Netherlands_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf

[6] https://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0033004/2019-02-23#Paragraaf2

[7] Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), Evaluation Report on the Netherlands on “Transparency of Party Funding”, http://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=09000016806c7965

[8] https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2012/11/17/ons-gepolder-werkt-corruptie-in-de-hand-12579101-a1268134

[9] https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:HR:2017:222

[10] https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:RBROT:2016:5281

[11] https://www.noordhollandsdagblad.nl/cnt/dmf20181022_75017111/crimineel-aast-op-politieke-invloed and https://www.nemokennislink.nl/publicaties/criminelen-proberen-gemeenteraadsverkiezingen-te-infiltreren/

[12] https://prodemos.nl/nieuws/verslag-college-paul-depla-uit-de-praktijk-van-de-burgemeester/


Commitments

  1. Local Digital Democracy

    NL0028, 2018, E-Government

  2. Dilemma Logic

    NL0029, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. Join EITI

    NL0030, 2018, Access to Information

  4. Open Algorithms

    NL0031, 2018, Automated Decision-Making

  5. Open Local Decision-Making

    NL0032, 2018, Access to Information

  6. ‘Open by Design’ Pilots

    NL0033, 2018, Access to Information

  7. Open Contracting

    NL0034, 2018, Access to Information

  8. Open Parliament

    NL0035, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  9. Open Government Standard and Dashboard

    NL0036, 2018, Access to Information

  10. Pioneering Network for an Open Government for Municipalities

    NL0037, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Transparent Political Party Finance

    NL0038, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  12. National Open Data Agenda

    NL0019, 2016, Access to Information

  13. Stuiveling Open Data Award

    NL0020, 2016, Access to Information

  14. Groningen Open Data Re-Use

    NL0021, 2016, Access to Information

  15. Releasing Ministerial Research Reports

    NL0022, 2016, Access to Information

  16. Detailed Open Spending Data

    NL0023, 2016, Access to Information

  17. Open Local Authority Decision-Making

    NL0024, 2016, Access to Information

  18. Training Civil Servants on Public Participation

    NL0025, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Easier Freedom of Information Requests

    NL0026, 2016, Access to Information

  20. Open Government Expertise Centre (LEOO)

    NL0027, 2016, Access to Information

  21. Further Develop and Promote Disclosure and Use of Open Data

    NL0001, 2013, Access to Information

  22. Increase Financial Transparency Through Open Budget and Experiments with Open Spending and Budget Monitoring

    NL0002, 2013, Access to Information

  23. Open House of Representatives

    NL0003, 2013, E-Government

  24. Instruments for Integrity

    NL0004, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  25. Revamp the Legislative Calendar

    NL0005, 2013, Access to Information

  26. More Online Consultation

    NL0006, 2013, E-Government

  27. More Transparency in Decision-Making Through Volgdewet.Nl Legislation-Tracking Website

    NL0007, 2013, Access to Information

  28. Informal Approach to Freedom of Information Requests

    NL0008, 2013, Access to Information

  29. From Rules to Freedom

    NL0009, 2013, Public Participation

  30. Change Attitudes and Procedures Through Smarter Working and ‘Public Servant 2.0’

    NL0010, 2013, Capacity Building

  31. Water Coalition

    NL0011, 2013, Public Participation

  32. Develop and Implement Participation Policy at the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment

    NL0012, 2013, Public Participation

  33. Make Government Information Accessible and Easy to Find

    NL0013, 2013, Capacity Building

  34. Make Citizens Better Informed and More Empowered: Public Inspection and Correction of Information

    NL0014, 2013, E-Government

  35. Open Announcements and Notifications

    NL0015, 2013, E-Government

  36. Public Services and the User Perspective

    NL0016, 2013, E-Government

  37. Designate Categories of Government Information for Active Access

    NL0017, 2013, Access to Information

  38. Rethink Information Management and Active Access: Four ‘Open by Design’ Pilot Projects

    NL0018, 2013, Access to Information

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!