Money to burn: Party finance and party organization in federal countries
How do political finance laws impact party organizations? In order to explain change in party organization via finance laws, I combine two approaches to the study of political parties, rational choice and institutionalism. This theory has two important elements. First, party organizers (who are defined as rational actors who design and build organizations in order to win elections) will seek the most efficient means to manage their organization. That is, they want to conduct as many activities as possible without spending a lot of time, personnel and financial resources. Second, the institutional environment of organizers (especially party finance legislation) constrains their ability to allocate resources. When legislatures change finance policies, then organizers must alter their organization and collect revenue and allocate resources accordingly in order to adapt to new finance laws. I test this theory by examining thirteen parties in four federal countries: Austria, Canada, Germany and the U.S. I use finance reports, interviews, and original survey research to demonstrate the increasing professionalism of political parties on all levels and their increasing distance from members and activists. A story about the unintended consequences party finance legislation emerges. Although parties develop the laws that regulate their action, the results are more different than they could have foreseen. For example, although party bureaucracies are larger, parties are spending less time recruiting and communicating with members and activists. Furthermore, stricter contribution limits and disclosure requirements have created parties concerned with chasing money.