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Who pays for our politics?

Public funding of political parties is not perfect, but it’s better than the alternative—a system in which rich donors and trade unions can buy influence

By Vernon Bogdanor   April 2015

All politicians have to put on a dicky bow now and again, but is that a problem? © Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire/Press Association Images

In an ideal democracy, political parties would be financed entirely by individual membership subscriptions. But no democracy achieves this ideal. Membership subscriptions are everywhere supplemented from one of three sources: large individual donations, institutional money—primarily from companies and trade unions—or public funding. Of these…

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