Lobbying, Party Funding and Electoral Reform

A Direct Democracy Forum administration would comply with DDF policies. So the DDF would install a Senate which may or may not include peer groups for business people. This would not however be the same as providing business people access to the legislative process, an access needed if you consider that an economy is both driven by businesses and serves as an environment intended to attract business, so there should be a forum where business and government and legislators can engage in dialogue, so government understand the needs of business and business understand the needs of government.

The attached M & G article “Stop the rot of secret party funding” is an appeal for such a forum to replace the present non-system, where influence is peddled to those with the fattest wallets. A DDF administration would take a serious look at what presently happens and develop a forum devoid of peddling for secret party-political funding.

Which leads one to the question of how parties are funded.

The DDF would like to see a system that funds all political parties equally, merely for being registered, having thus satisfied a certain level of public support, and a system that also funds parties proportional to the level of support as evidenced by the number of registered party supporters a party can claim, rather than simply based on the number of seats a party has in parliament, although that also needs to continue to cover party-political parliamentary expenses.

State funding of political parties may or may not preclude private ‘party’ funding.  There could be a common pool of private and corporate donations to the democratic system or private individuals and corporations could continue to donate to parties which will need to declare all or at least all major donations, or some mix of those extremes may be desirable. The matter needs debate and needs to be subjected to the democratic process. But what we have is clearly open to corruption and abuse that will frequently place vested interests above public interests, and the DDF suspect this is what occurred in the E-Tolling debacle.  The DDF are equally convinced that this non-system, where chaos and all sorts of deceits can reign supreme, must be replaced with a more structured and transparent system of public dialogue and party funding.

This in turn leads to the question of the electoral process and the role of the R500 000 hurdle for access to national democratic elections. The DDF are sympathetic to the plight of the EFF (Julie’s party) who need to raise R500 000 to get on the ballot paper nationally for this year’s elections. The DDF are faced with the same problem. 

The DDF would like to see a multi-round electoral system that funds all parties equally at each round of the elections with losing parties dropping out of each successive round until there are clear winners tasked to form the next government, either by a coalition having an electoral majority or by a single party obtaining an absolute electoral majority.

This is a system which will allow nascent political parties entry into the electoral system, and have their policies and goals judged by the electorate, without needing to overcome a potentially debilitating financial hurdle, and will challenge the status quo at each election and prevent stagnation of the political system. The DDF believes such would be a sensible and healthy system although the status quo will not necessarily agree with this view. 

DDF policies repeatedly focus on the need for collaborative government. The need to give business a voice to express its needs and the needs of the economy and the need to give the electorate a meaningful voice in a new electoral system, are merely a continuation of the collaborative theme expressed in the Senate at national level and Municipal Forums at local levels. 

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The buck stops at the ballot box.