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"Milking the system": Fighting the abuse of public resources for re-election

Abuse of state resources for re-election damages democracy creating an unlevel playing field that improves re-election chances of incumbents and negatively influencing the quality of government, since diversion of resources for financing campaigns incurs costs for the institutions involved and may reduce services provided to the public. Efforts to confront the problem require attention not only to politicians abusing these assets but also to the public administration system that supplies such resources. Most efforts however deal only with the first part of the problem. This paper explains the need for an integrated reform strategy, including reforming the electoral system, strengthening political parties, and regulating the financing of parties and elections. But, at the same time, any strategy that aims to reduce the vulnerability of the public sector to political abuse during elections should work to curb the supply of resources through strengthening the civil service, building state monitoring mechanisms and enhancing transparency to allow for media and civil society oversight.

17 August 2011
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"Milking the system": Fighting the abuse of public resources for re-election

Cite this publication

Fontana, A.; Speck, B.; (2011) "Milking the system": Fighting the abuse of public resources for re-election. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2011:7)

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About the authors

Alessandra Fontana

Alessandra Fontana is an independent researcher and consultant. She has provided support to developing countries in the implementation of policies and conducted applied research and policy analysis. She worked for the OECD focusing on efforts undertaken by the international community in illicit financial flows and managed projects in corruption prevention in the Middle East and North Africa. She was an adviser for U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, focused on illicit financial flows and political party financing. Prior to that, she managed a large research project for Transparency International on political party financing across Latin America. In 2002, she received a Thomson Reuters Foundation scholarship for her work as a financial journalist in Brazil.

Bruno Wilhelm Speck


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)