Running out of oxygen: the financial condition of Italian political parties
Electoral competition is quite expensive. The prevalent idea in Western countries is that public funding may contribute to and preserve the system’s fairness and pluralism, defending political parties from the influence of big money. However, the Italian reform of political funding approved in 2014 appears to move in an opposite direction, encouraging political players to extract private sources while discarding public support. Such a choice entails hazards associated with several current phenomena, including system transparency, financial appeals from competing players and the rising personalization of politics.
This article describes the financial status of the major Italian political parties in 2013 and 2018, with an emphasis on the allocation of private funds. Unfortunately, political parties’ responses to the new regulation came late, resulting in significant variations and disparities. Private money needs regulation and restrictions before being established as the primary source of revenue for political competition. At present, Italian political parties are left with few guidelines and appear to be navigating by sight.