Are political contributions regulated?

Bribery & Corruption (2nd edition)

China Small Flag China

Political contributions are not applicable under China’s legal and political system.

France Small Flag France

Since 1988, political financing and election expenses have been heavily regulated in France, with a view to increasing moralization and transparency in public life.

As regards financing of political parties, French law authorizes two main sources of funding:

  • Private funding accounts for a very small proportion of political parties’ resources. It is comprised of members’ contributions and donations from individuals for up to 7,500 euros per year. All types of corporate donations are prohibited.
  • Public funding has become the primary source of funding. The State subsidizes political parties which meet certain accounting requirements, based on their past election results and their representation in parliament.

As regards financing of election campaigns, several principles apply, such as:

  • Collection of donations under the supervision of a tax agent. Although legal persons cannot contribute to election campaigns, individuals can give a maximum amount of 4,600 euros per campaign;
  • Campaign account, which must include all resources and expenditures, and must be formally approved by a specific committee, in order for the candidate to get reimbursed for part of the campaign expenditures.

In addition, breaching the above described rules governing funding of campaigns can lead to an election being cancelled by administrative courts.

Germany Small Flag Germany

In cases of political contributions, sections 331 and 333 of the Criminal Code will apply. According to the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) political contributions in relation to an election campaign are legal as long as no specific official act in favour of the contributor is promised. Just promising to be willing to officiate in accordance with the contributor’s general economic and political view after the election is not a punishable offence.

Section 31d of the law on political parties (PartG) applies in certain cases regarding the party’s income or contributions it receives.

Greece Small Flag Greece

Political contributions are governed by Law 3023/2002 (as amended in 2014 and 2017). There are provisions for transparency of contributions, proper registration, publishing complete financial statements, restrictions in receiving funding, disclosures etc. Violations of these provisions are punishable with fines, suspension of sponsorships and, for certain type of offences, imprisonment for the individuals.

Ireland Small Flag Ireland

Political contributions in Ireland are regulated by to the Electoral Act, 1997, (as amended) (“the Electoral Act”).

Certain donations are prohibited pursuant to the Electoral Act. For example, a political party may not accept an anonymous donation exceeding €100 in value. Similarly, a political party may not accept a cash donation exceeding €200 in value and in such circumstances must return the donation, or the part of it exceeding the limited, to the donor. A political party also may not accept a donation exceeding €200 in value from a corporate donor unless the corporate donor is registered in the Register of Corporate Donors maintained by the Standards Commission and a statement is made on behalf of the corporate donor confirming that the making of the donation was approved by the corporate donor. The maximum value of donations which a political party may accept from the same donor in the same calendar year, either directly or indirectly through an intermediary, is €2,500. Where a donor makes more than one donation to a political party in a particular year, the values of the donations must be aggregated for the purpose of observing the maximum limit. Restrictions also apply to donations made by persons and organisations residing outside of Ireland.

Should a person fail to comply with the guidelines issued by the Standards Commission in relation to the treatment of political donations, they may be guilty of an offence.

Italy Small Flag Italy

Political contributions are regulated by specific legislation (Legislative Decree no. 149, dated 28th December 2013), by means of which the so-called ‘public financing for parties’ has been abolished. Said legislation allows for private funding for parties and regulates it according to principles of transparency and adequacy.

Belgium Small Flag Belgium

Political contributions are governed by the Act of 4 July 1989. According to article 16bis of that Act only natural persons and thus no legal entities (or natural persons who act as an intermediary for a legal entity) are allowed to give gifts to political parties, to electoral lists, to candidates and to political mandates.

According to this Act, political parties, electoral lists, candidates and political mandates can maximum receive a contribution of 500 EUR or equivalent per year from the same natural person. Natural persons may contribute up to a maximum total annual amount of 2,000 EUR or equivalent to political parties, electoral lists, candidates and political mandates.

Anyone who makes or accepts a donation in breach of the aforementioned rules may be subject to criminal fines.

Japan Small Flag Japan

Political contributions are regulated under the Political Fund Control Act. Only political parties and political fund-managing organizations appointed by political parties are eligible to accept donations from corporations and other organizations. The total annual amount of such donations is limited according to the size of the corporation or organization. Individuals can make donations to candidates for elected public office and/or political organizations, and the total annual amount of such donations is similarly limited to a certain amount.

Non-Japanese citizens and entities, and organizations in which the majority of members are non-Japanese citizens or entities (with the exception of Japanese listed companies listed for more than five consecutive years), are prohibited from making donations in connection with any political activity.

The Political Fund Control Act requires political organizations to report their revenues and expenses in detail to the Ministry of General Affairs or a Local Election Management Council (depending on whether the elections are parliamentary or local).

Kenya Small Flag Kenya

Yes, political contributions are regulated under the Election Campaign Financing Act and the Political Parties Act. Contribution is defined to mean ‘monetary and non-monetary contributions including loans, donations, grants, gifts, property, services provided to a candidate or political party, and money spent on behalf of a candidate, political party or referendum committee in paying any expenses incurred directly or indirectly but does not include volunteer services’.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which is responsible for conducting or supervising referenda and elections to any elective body or office established by the Constitution, and any other elections as prescribed by an Act of Parliament, is required at least twelve months before a general election, by a notice in the Gazette to prescribe limits on contributions, contributions from a single source; loan forming part of a contribution and paid-up media coverage which a candidate, political party or referendum committee may receive during the expenditure period. A candidate, a political party or a referendum committee shall not receive any contribution or donation, in cash or in kind from the State, a State institution or agency or any other public resource.

The political parties fund is established under the Political Parties Act and one of the sources of the funds is voluntary contributions and donations from any lawful source. A political party commits an offence if it receives funds from a non-citizen. No person or organization shall, in any one year, contribute to a political party an amount, whether in cash or in kind exceeding five per cent of the total expenditure of the political party unless the same is being made by any founding member of the political party as his contribution to the initial assets of the party within the first year of its existence.

United States Small Flag United States

Under the FCPA, bribes to foreign political parties and candidates for foreign political office disguised as political contributions are prohibited so long as all of the required elements are satisfied. Political contributions that are in compliance with the written laws and regulations of the political party’s or candidate’s country and not paid for a corrupt purpose may be permitted. 18 USC section 78dd-1(c).

Mexico Small Flag Mexico

Yes, political contributions are regulated by Article 41 of the CPEUM and the General Law on Electoral Institutions and Procedures (“LGIPE”). In general terms, political parties may obtain private financing (within the thresholds and restrictions set forth in the LGIPE and its regulations), but in no event they may receive donations or contributions in cash, metals or jewellery, from any individual or company.

Brazil Small Flag Brazil

As of 2016, in accordance with the Federal Law No. 13.165 of 2015 only individuals can make political contributions (apart from self-contributions from the candidate and political party). Contributions from legal entities are no longer permitted.

New Zealand Small Flag New Zealand

Electoral laws require the disclosure of donor support to politicians and the Electoral Office can investigate any allegations relevant to political party or candidate donations.

Denmark Small Flag Denmark

Yes, political contributions are governed by the provisions of the Danish Accounts of Political Parties Act. Among other things the Act imposes a limit to anonymous contributions. However, an anonymous contribution may still be given through an intermediary.

Romania Small Flag Romania

Political contributions are extensively regulated by Law no. 334/2006 on financing the activity of political parties and the electoral campaigns, which provides specific conditions regarding the nature of the finances of a political party, the amount of the contributions, the manner in which the political contributions may be effected and it also imposes several obligations in order to ensure the transparency of the parties’ finances.

At the same time, the Romanian lawmaker opted for the incrimination of a deed related to the financing of political parties, by Art. 13 of the Law no. 78/2000, which provides that “The act of a person performing a leading position in a party, in a trade union or patronage or in a legal person without patrimonial purpose to use his influence or authority for the purpose of obtaining for himself or for another money, goods or other undeserved goods.”

Singapore Small Flag Singapore

Political contributions are primarily regulated by the Political Donations Act (Cap 236) (PDA). This legislation was enacted predominantly to prevent foreign citizens and foreign controlled bodies from interfering in the domestic political process by funding candidates and political associations.

Under the PDA, political associations and candidates can only accept contributions from permissible donors (Singapore citizens not less than 21 years of age, Singapore-controlled companies carrying on business mainly in Singapore, or a candidate's political party). If donations come from anonymous donors, such donations from anonymous donors may not exceed S$5,000 per financial year.

Donors who donate an aggregate sum of S$ 10,000 or more in a calendar year, political associations and any aspiring or actual political candidate must file donation reports, at least annually, to the Registrar of Political Donations. Donation reports should state details such as the identity of donors, value of donations and circumstances in which donations were made.

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

Switzerland has no specific regulations on the financing of political parties and election campaigns, with minor exceptions at the cantonal level. This has repeatedly been criticised by international organizations.

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

The Bribery Act does not include any specific provisions in relation to political contributions, although the general offences of giving or receiving a bribe may be applicable.

Canada Small Flag Canada

Absent a quid pro quo, political contributions are generally permissible and do not offend the Criminal Code’s bribery provisions. Having said that, federal and provincial legislation determine whether political candidates can accept benefits from certain entities.

At the federal level, foreign political contributions are banned. However, provincially, political candidates may be permitted to accept foreign political contributions.

Portugal Small Flag Portugal

Yes. According Law No. 19/2003, 20 July, the funding of political parties and election campaigns, determinate, under which terms political parties may be funded through their own revenues, private funds and public grants.

A limited amount is established for donations coming from individuals.

There are transparency rules prohibiting anonymous donations and requiring the registration of any fund raising.

Argentina Small Flag Argentina

Law No. 27.504, of Political Parties Financing, which entered into force in June 6, 2019, establishes a mixed model by which political parties will obtain their resources through public and private financing for the development of their ordinary operations and activities.

The following contributions are not allowed:

- Anonymous contributions;

- Contributions from companies that have contracts with Federal, Provincial or local authorities;

- Contributions from casinos and any other form of gambling businesses;

- Contributions from foreign governments, or institutions, or companies that are not incorporated in the country;

- Contributions from individuals or legal entities that have been indicted or sued for tax evasion;

Contributions per person (either individuals or legal entities) may not exceed a limit that will be established by the National Electoral Chamber every year;

Money contributions should only be made by bank transfer, bank deposit accrediting identity, electronic means, check, credit or debit card, or digital platforms and applications provided that they allow the adequate identification of the donor and traceability of the funds.

Whoever makes a contribution to a political group in any instance must issue a sworn affidavit representing that he/she/it does not fall under any of the prohibitions foreseen in the law.

Companies and individuals that breach the provisions of the law may be fined with 1 to 10 times the value of the illicit contribution.

Angola Small Flag Angola


Updated: July 8, 2019