Political Parties & Dues (Part 2)

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Political Parties & Dues (Part 2): UK, Canada

After conducting extensive research, we were unable to find any hard evidence illustrating why each party is a qualified example of significant, left of center/progressive parties (based on policies), in terms of successfully using dues to cover a majority of their expenditures. We also could not determine how moving to a dues-paying membership (or increasing dues) has increased the effectiveness and capacity of the parties, as the information is not publicly available. However, we found the annual membership cost for the UK's Momentum and Labour parties is £3 a year (approximately $3.85 per year), while the yearly membership cost for Canada's NDP party is CA$10 a year (about US$7.44 per year).

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We began our research by searching for the requested information through official websites and press releases for the UK's Momentum Party, Labour Party, and Canada's NDP Party. We were able to determine how these parties collect membership dues, the benefits they offer to their members, and sources of revenue. However, we couldn't find any detailed info on the amount and percentage of membership fees for any of the parties.
Next, we searched through the official electoral commission in the UK and Canada. The idea here was to check through the contributions received and reported by the UK's Momentum and Labour parties, as well as Canada's NDP party and calculate the amount and percentage of revenue collected through membership fees. We checked through the database of The Electoral Commission in the UK for information on the Momentum party and Labour party. However, the database maintained by the Electoral Commission in the UK did not provide details on the revenue collected through membership fees for any of the parties. Similarly, we checked through the database maintained by Elections Canada for Canada's NDP party. However, the database only provided the names of the contributors without any indication whether the amount was collected as a membership fee or a general donation. This strategy thus failed to provide the information for the amount and percentage of revenue collected through membership fees.

Furthermore, we searched through news articles and media, including but not limited to The Independent, The Guardian, CBC, and The Globe and Mail for publications regarding the revenue collected by the political parties earlier mentioned. This strategy provided useful information on the amount and percentage of revenue collected through membership fees.

After exhausting the strategies mentioned above, we were unable to find some requested information such as hard evidence illustrating why each party is a qualified example of significant, left of center/progressive parties (based on policies), in terms of successfully using dues to cover a majority of their expenditures. We also could not determine how moving to a dues-paying membership (or increasing dues) has increased the effectiveness and capacity of the parties.

CALCULATIONS

UK'S MOMENTUM PARTY
To calculate the amount of revenue collected from dues for Momentum, we found an article that mentioned that its members had passed 40,000 in number, and the average fee per year stood at £3. We then multiplied the total number of members with the average membership cost to get the total amount of revenue collected from dues for Momentum.
Revenue collected from dues = total number of members * average membership cost = 40,000 * £3 = £120,000.

2. UK'S LABOUR PARTY:
To calculate the percentage of revenue collected from dues for the Labour Party, we found an article, that provided the exact amount figures for the total revenues and amount collected. We then multiplied the amount collected from dues with the total revenue, to get the percentage of the amount collected from dues.
% collected from dues = (amount from dues / total amount) * 100 = (£16 million / £56 million) * 100 = 28.5%.

3. CANADA'S NDP PARTY:
To calculate the percentage and amount of revenue collected from the NDP Party's dues, we found the annual membership fee, the number of members, and the total revenue collected. We then calculated the full amount from the dues by multiplying the number of members with the membership fee. Further, we divided this amount with the total funds collected to calculate the percentage share as such:
Revenue collected from dues = total number of members * average fee = 124,000 * CA$10 = CA$1,240,000
% collected from dues = (amount from dues / total amount) * 100 = (CA$1,240,000 / CA$5,100,000) * 100 = 24.3%.
Kindly note that all the amounts mentioned above have been converted from GBP and CAD to US$ using the currency converters.

THE UK'S MOMENTUM PARTY

The membership cost for the UK's Momentum party is £3 a year, which is approximately $3.85 per year. A membership with Momentum enables people to transform the Labour Party, their communities, and the overall country. Every member gets an opportunity to work with like-minded people to organize and partake in community elections and issues. 95% of Momentum's current funding comes from membership fees and small donations. The amount generated from dues was £120,000, approximately $154,292.39. Partner unions affiliated with Momentum include the TSSA, CWU, and the BFAWU.

THE UK'S LABOUR PARTY

The membership cost for the UK's Labour Party is £3 a year, which is approximately $3.85 per year. Members of the UK’s Labour Party get to be involved in policy making and voting in internal elections. Membership provides access to various tools and resources such as involvement in events, rallies, and campaign days. Membership also makes the individual a part of the local Labour Party. The party generated over £16 million (approximately $20.56 million) from membership subscriptions, which accounted for 28.5% of the total revenue generated. Other funding categories include general donations and public money known as “short money.”

CANADA’S NDP (NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF CANADA)

The membership cost for Canada's NDP is CA$10 a year, which is approximately US$7.44 per year. Privileges for members include their ability to vote for the members of the EDA Board of Directors, new delegates for the delegate selection meeting, and the EDA’s official candidate for the next federal election. The party also gives its members the ability to run for various positions in the EDA Board of Directors, and positions as a delegate for the party’s next National Policy Convention, a member of the party’s national council, and a party candidate for the next federal election. Revenue generated from dues by the NDP amounts CA$1.24 million, approximately US$ 0.92 million, and accounts for 24.3% of the total revenue. Other sources of funding include general donations.
Part
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Part
02

Political Parties & Dues (Part 2): Latin America, Central America

Adequate information for political parties in Latin and Central America that relates to income from membership fees was not available due to widespread political corruption, manipulation of data, and lack of transparency. As a European example, the social democratic party of Germany earns the largest relative share of its revenue (31.37%) from membership fees.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

Adequate requested information for the Latin American or Central American regions could not be found to satisfy the criteria for political parties that receive a majority or significant portion of their revenue from membership dues. Due to the unavailability of this information, the provided example is the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP).
Initial research included sources such as the World Bank, the UN, and the IMF in an attempt to gain an overall idea of the party funding scenario in Latin America and Central America. All the information was generally centered around election financing of the countries, however, there were some reports which provided insight into individual party scenarios of the listed nations. Academic sources from Academia, ResearchGate, and Google Scholar were also referenced to find further details on the existing parties in these regions.
From these references, the political parties of several Latin American regions were found such as the Workers Party in Brazil, MORENA in Mexico, and the Cuban Communist Party. Central American parties were also found, such as the Liberal Party and the National Party of Honduras. However, owing to the lack of transparency in membership data in Latin America and rampant corruption in political funding in Honduras, very little suitable data was found to answer the research criteria.
Further research was performed through sources such as the Economist, Time and the Guardian which often publish rankings on the democratic functions of individual nations and their political parties, but this did not yield relevant details pertaining to membership.
Numerous political parties were identified in the countries of the Latin American and Central American regions, and from this information, three separate data points were sought: the number of members of these parties which were available mostly as a percentage of the population of the country or from direct sources like party documents, average/unit membership fees of these parties from their websites or links available from their social media portals, and total income from news sources such as Nisgua or individual party financial disclosures. Again, due to the lack of transparency and corruption in these regions, these data sets could not be found.
Apart from information from databases of the UN, the World Bank and the IMF, specific relevant databases such as IDEA, the Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance, and the International Growth Council (IGC) were referenced, but none of these sources provided party information for the requested regions, and the data was concentrated more on politically transparent countries in Europe, North America, and some African countries.
To broaden the research criteria from Latin/Central America to Europe as a last resort, one relevant European political party was found. The Social Democratic Party of Germany was used as a substitute for Central America.

USEFUL FINDINGS FOR LATIN AMERICA

In a detailed study report published in Academia.edu, titled 'Party Membership in Latin American Political Parties: What is the Role of the Militantes?,' it was found that party membership was an understudied subject in Latin America due to the lack of reliable data. Official data released by electoral organisms or political parties was marred with lack of reliability caused by inflated numbers, the inclusion of dead people, persons living abroad, double membership, deliberate manipulation and absence of the register itself. Moreover, data obtained on the topic of party membership was also not reliable due to its own methodological problems like social desirability, current or previous membership, the limited set of questions asked and the culturally conditioned understanding of party membership.
National levels of party membership in Latin America as a percentage of the population was the highest in Panama, accounting for 59.71% of the total population, and the lowest in Peru at 5.94% as per the latest available information. In countries such as Paraguay, the share of total party memberships as a percentage of a country's population was 109.06%, implying a lack of reliability in the data as observed for the continent in general. More than 100% implies more party members than a country's population.

USEFUL FINDINGS FOR CENTRAL AMERICA

The region of Central America consists of seven countries, namely Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. All countries in the region are small countries, with Guatemala being the largest in terms of population, at a total of 14,373,472 people, and Belize is the smallest with a population of 334,297. The largest country in the Central American region, Guatemala, is entangled in charges of corruption relating to the ruling party's corrupt campaign financing which indicates a lack of transparency in political funding.
Another country in the region, Honduras, is also facing similar charges in political financing as parties have been accused of stealing public funds for political purposes. Also, there are allegations of funds being misappropriated to support political campaigns for the opposing Liberal Party and another smaller party known as the Broad Front. Like in Guatemala, Honduras suffers from a lack of credibility and transparency pertaining to operations around party funding and political financing.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Germany

The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) is one of the largest parties in Germany with 443,000 members, only following the largest party, the CDU with 575,000 members. The SPD holds 153 of 709 seats held in the Bundestag region.
As per comparative data available at the latest in 2014, published in 2017, the SPD was the party with the highest revenue among all German parties at a value of 161,800,000 euros (US$181,337,350), of which the largest share came from 'Mitgliedsbeiträge,' translated as membership fees. The share was 31% from membership fees. The party is a significant left-of-center/progressive party, identified with representing the working classes and trade unions. Also, historically, the SPD has been noted as a “permanent home of the social justice reformers” in Germany.

COST OF MEMBERSHIP

PRIVILEGES ATTACHED TO THE MEMBERSHIP

Guest members of the SPD are allowed to participate in general meetings, to speak at these meetings and put their applications to vote. However, they only have their own voting rights and the right to run for committees in project groups. This implies that full members do not have any limitation as far as their voting rights are concerned.
Guest members pay 2.5 euros (US$2.8) per month or 30 euros (US$33.62) per year in contribution. Supporters have full membership rights in working groups and/or SPD thematic forums.

PERCENTAGE AND AMOUNT OF REVENUES THAT COME FROM DUES

As per the latest available financial disclosures of 2016, published at the end of 2017, membership fees and mandate-holder contributions represented the party's main source of income at around 47.8% in 2015 and 47.7% in 2016. In 2015, SPD premium income reached 75,000,000 euros (US$84,056,250) and 74,900,000 euros (US$83,944,175) in 2016. Out of this 157,020,000 euros total (US$175,980,165), 49,260,000 euros at 31.37% (calculation of 157,020,000 * 0.3137) came from 'Mitgliedsbeiträge,' meaning membership fees.
Other categories of SPD political party income are Mandatsträgerbeiträge (earnings from Elected Posts), Spenden (earnings from Donations), Staatliche Mittel (earnings from government funds), and Sonstige Einnahmen (other revenue).

INCREASE IN EFFECTIVENESS AND CAPACITY

In Germany, political parties receive a number of public subsidies calculated on the basis of their electoral success, the sum gained through membership fees as well as deputy fees, and the amount of money obtained from donations. Therefore, a high proportion of membership fees collected by the Social Democratic Party of Germany translates into a high proportion of matching public funds for the party, ultimately strengthening the financial resources of the organization. Higher levels of membership fees collected also lower the dependence of the party on the state for its operations.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "Momentum is people-powered and the vast majority of our funding comes from our membership. This means ordinary people from across the country are chipping in to make Momentum’s work happen."
  • "Membership income goes into our general funds, which the organisation uses to fund training, campaigns, regional organiser posts, our social media work – and our (modest!) central office and staff costs. All that we’ve achieved as a movement over the last couple of years has been made possible by our members’ contributions."
  • "We also receive a small amount of funding from partner unions who affiliate to Momentum, which include the TSSA, CWU and the BFAWU."
  • "Typically, one-off donations go towards a general fighting fund – to support the incredible campaigns members, supporters and activists are leading to transform Britain. "
  • "From financing the creation and roll out of innovative tech, to running hundreds of training sessions, we aim to dedicate as much of our donations as possible to mobilising and engaging people."
Quotes
  • "Momentum is a people-powered, grassroots movement. "
  • "Our local groups bring together like-minded people to organise around community issues and elections. "
  • "Every group is unique, with priorities shaped by local politics and members’ interests."
Quotes
  • "Momentum is a people-powered, vibrant movement. We aim to transform the Labour Party, our communities and Britain in the interests of the many, not the few."
  • "Our proposition is simple: if more of us come together, we can use our skills and energy to tackle every challenge head on. Using our collective power, our campaigning, networks and tech, we can transform society for the better."
  • "From our view of the Labour Party, to how we change Britain for the better, we’re up front about where we stand."
Quotes
  • "Membership of the Jeremy Corbyn-backing organisation Momentum has passed 40,000, meaning it now has a larger paying activist base than the Green Party."
  • "The organisation also said that 95 per cent of its current funding comes from membership fees and small donations, with the average fee standing at £3 a year."
Quotes
  • "Labour has broken previous donation records and raised nearly £56m in a single year beating the Conservatives by nearly £10m, official figures show."
  • "Labour received just over £16m from membership subscriptions, according to the data, an increase of £1.6m from the previous year."
  • "Labour also received £18m in donations from its members, while Conservative donors gave £34m, the data showed."
  • "The party is now reliant on smaller donations from ordinary members. Labour membership soared from 200,000 in 2015 to 552,000 in January, according to reports."
  • "Labour’s finances have also been helped by public money known as “Short money” which is given to opposition parties. This amounted to £7.43m last year."
Quotes
  • "You’ll have a say in our policy and vote in internal elections. We’ll provide you with all the tools and resources to get involved in events, campaign days and rallies and introduce you to a huge movement of other like-minded members. "
  • "By joining, you’ll also become a part of your local Labour Party, who will be in touch with ways you can get involved with loads of different campaigns and events near you. "
  • "You can get involved in everything from policy making to campaigning to social events right away."
  • "As little as £3 a year. Most members pay our standard rate of £4.30 a month and many choose to pay more to support our campaigns."
Quotes
  • "Voting for your EDA Board of Directors at your EDA Annual General Meeting Voting for national policy convention delegates to represent your EDA at the Delegate Selection Meeting"
  • "Voting for your EDA’s candidate to represent the party in your riding in the next federal election Running to be a member of your riding’s EDA Board of Directors"
  • "Running to be a delegate for your EDA for the next national policy convention Running to be the EDA’s nominated candidate to represent the party in the next federal election"
  • "Running to be a member of the party’s National Council"
  • "to join the NDP federally, you must join provincially since there is no legal difference between the NDP federally and provincially and thus the membership rates differ depending on which province you reside in. "
Quotes
  • "NDP triples its membership to 124,000 in run-up to party's leadership vote"
Quotes
  • "It puts the total for the NDP at $5.1 million for the year — better than 2017, still below its fundraising numbers from 2011 to 2016. "
Quotes
  • "Donations are down. Donors are down. And, despite the optimistic air of leader Jagmeet Singh, there is nothing to suggest a change in financial fortune is on the horizon."
  • "That “good” first quarter – January to March 2018 – saw the NDP take in $1,372,760 in donations from 16,132 contributors"
From Part 02
Quotes
  • "Indeed, one of the reasons why party membership is rather understudied in Latin America is the lack of reliable data. There are basically two sources to estimate the number of militantes in Latin America and both face important problems. On the one hand, official data as presented by electoral organisms or political parties itself have been criticized for the lack of reliability due to inflated numbers, including dead people, persons living abroad, double membership, deliberate manipulation or simply the absence of the register."
  • "On the other hand, only recently there has been some comparative data on the region from public opinion surveys that both do not cover all the countries in the region and suffers from its own methodological problems like social desirability, current or previous membership, the limited battery of questions related to the main topic and the culturally conditioned understanding of party membership."
Quotes
  • "Guatemalan President, Jimmy Morales, declared Iván Velásquez, head of the UN anti-impunity commission, the CICIG, “persona non grata” in Guatemala and requested his immediate expulsion. This decision came on the heels of a request by the CICIG and the Guatemalan public prosecutor’s office to strip Morales of his political immunity, in order to deepen their investigation into his role in his party’s corrupt campaign financing. The expulsion order was blocked just hours later by the Guatemalan Constitutional Court."
  • "On September 13, Congress voted to reform the criminal code. Some of the reforms they approved would shift criminal blame for illegal campaign financing from party general secretaries to party accountants."
Quotes
  • "Those accused allegedly stole public funds destined for agricultural development projects, which they then funneled through various foundations and non-governmental organizations before using the money for political purposes."
  • "Part of the funds allegedly helped finance a program tauted by then-candidate Hernández in 2013 called the “Cachureca Card.” (“Cachureca” is Honduran slang meaning politically conservative.) The program allowed cardholders to recieve sizeable discounts at participating businesses."
  • "Other funds were siphoned off to support political campaigns for the opposition Liberal Party and another smaller party known as the Broad Front."
  • "Prosecutors did not make the names of the suspects public, but local media reports suggest those implicated may include a number of congressmen from Hernández’s National Party and a former Liberal Party presidential candidate, among others."
Quotes
  • "Anyone wishing to become a member of the SPD will fill in an application form ( online or offline ) and send it to their respective local party office. The address can be found here . If you can not find an address, you can also address the application for membership directly to the SPD party executive committee in Berlin:"
  • "Since its founding, the SPD has largely financed itself from the contributions of its members. And also in the case of membership fees, the principle of solidarity applies. This means that comrades who have a higher income pay a higher contribution than those who have less. The party convention of the SPD last set the membership fees in December 2011 as follows: The monthly membership fee for members with taxable income is at least 5.00 euros. Each member chooses a contribution level as part of their income:"
  • "up to 1.000 € monthly net income: monthly fee 5.00 € to 2,000 € monthly net income: monthly fee 7,50 € | 15,00 € | 20,00 € to 3.000 € monthly net income: monthly fee 25,00 € | 30,00 € | 35,00 € to 4.000 € monthly net income: monthly fee 45,00 € | 60,00 € | 75,00 € from 4,000 € monthly net income: monthly fee 100,00 € | 150,00 € | 250,00 € and more"
  • "For members without earned income, without pensions, without pension income or without comparable income, the monthly membership fee is 2.50 Euro. For members who are also members of another party that is a member of the Party of European Socialists ( PES ), the monthly contribution is 2.50 euros if they meet their contribution obligations to that sister party. "
  • "The annual fee for guest members and supporters is 30 euros, for Nur-Juso members 12 euros."
Quotes
  • "In the case of Germany, on the other hand, political parties receive an amount of public subsidies calculated on the basis of their electoral success, the sum gained through membership fees as well as deputy fees, and the amount of money obtained from donations (art. 18.1 of the 1967 German Political Parties Act). In no case, however, the amount of public funds can exceed the sum of private funds raised by a party itself (art. 18.5).7 In other words, parties must generate at least half of their income from sources other than the state"
  • "The effects of these two “matching-funds” regimes result in two political party systems, in Germany and The Netherlands respectively, with the lowest financial dependence from the state (around 40%), 8 among the lowest “membership drain” (around 2%), and one of the highest levels of trust in political parties (around 27%) in the whole European continent"