Political Parties And Dues (Part 1)
The prevalence of political parties across different countries imposing dues on their members to generate internal revenue is as high as 100% in the UK and 80% in Canada. These dues are collected on a monthly or yearly basis and the contributions range from $5, $10, to $15 in Canada. Below is a detailed research methodology leading to the findings presented thereafter.
In finding the information, we started by looking at studies, reports and research published by international agencies dealing in party and electoral financing, which include sources such as the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, International Growth Center, OECD, House of Commons library, World Bank, United Nations, and the International Monetary Fund. From these sources, we managed to retrieve information supporting the effectiveness of the practice of imposing dues.
We also scoured the websites of political parties in the UK, specifically focusing on membership dues collection mechanisms and frequencies. On that line, the search involved examining the major political parties in the UK, Canada, and Germany. Our search findings indicated that most political parties impose dues on a monthly or yearly basis.
Next, we examined reports published by official websites such as the Economist, Academia-Research Gate, and Google Scholar to find out more evidence to corroborate information on the effectiveness of the practice of imposing dues on political parties’ members. Further, we supported our findings by examining newspaper reports published by major news agencies such as the New York Times, Financial Times, and the Guardian. Overall, all findings were collated to address the distinct parts of the requirements including the prevalence of the practice and the general sentiment about the effectiveness and importance of building and funding independent political power.
THE PREVALENCE IN THE UK
In the UK, there are 7 major political parties namely Labor Party, Scottish National Party, Conservative Party, Liberal Democrats Party, Green Party, UKIP, and Plaid Cymru, with members estimated at 54,0000; 124,500; 124,000; 99,200; 39,350; 23,600; and 8,000 respectively. The Labor Party collects dues both yearly and monthly while the Scottish National Party collects contributions monthly, yearly, or on a lifetime basis.
On the other hand, the Conservative Party in the UK collects membership dues annually while the Liberal Democrats Party gathers membership fees either monthly or yearly. Equally, the Green Party, UKIP, and Plaid Cymru collect membership dues monthly or annually. Therefore, based on the examination of the seven major political parties in the UK it is evident that the practice of imposing membership dues is common and practiced 100%.
THE PREVALENCE IN CANADA
For Canada, five major political parties were identified including the Liberal Party of Canada, Conservative Party of Canada, New Democratic Party of Canada, Bloc Quebecois, and Green party of Canada. The Conservative Party, Bloc Quebecois, and Green party impose membership dues at the rate of $5, $10, or $15 per year. Similarly, the New Democratic Party of Canada imposes membership dues on a one-time basis or hassle-free monthly basis. Based on the findings retrieved, only the Liberal Party of Canada does not impose fines on its members . In this regard, four out of five major political parties in Canada impose dues on their members, equivalent to 80% of all major parties.
THE PREVALENCE IN GERMANY
Regarding Germany, it was noted that all political parties collect membership fees to generate revenue internally. Based on the latest information on the subject, the membership fees are calculated as a percentage of the total revenue and vary from 19% to 24% for minor parties and 27% to 29% for the major parties such as CPU or SPD.
SENTIMENTS AND EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PRACTICE
In Canada, imposing membership fees facilitated internal democracy since card-carrying members who pay an annual fee of around $15 could elect leaders and local candidates while the rest were left out. Additionally, they could vote on various internal matters like amendments to the party constitution to streamline the functioning of internal democracy in the party.
In countries such as Holland, public funding of matching fund is directly dependent on the party's level of membership. Thus, higher membership fees directly correlate with the top matching funds for the party, which is expected to facilitate the practice of imposing membership fees.
Research findings indicate that there is a high dependence on membership fees in Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands. The three countries rank high on the Economist’s Democracy Index with scores of approximately 9.15, 8.68, and 8.89 out of 10 respectively. In Ghana, membership fees are genuine since they allow the members a certain degree of influence towards internal matters and the functioning of the party.
Based on a study by the Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance titled “Funding of Political Parties and Election Campaigns,” it was concluded that party membership dues are the best option for democratic engagement and grassroots ownership of parties.