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Crinis index

Producer: 
Transparency International
Publication year: 
2009
Source of the information: 
Transparency International
The stated goal of the Crinis project is to help increase public trust in democracy and political parties by promoting transparency and accountability in political financing. The Crinis Index allows a thorough evaluation of the current situation in each country under review, as well as comparisons between countries for sharing of best practices.
 
The Crinis methodology combines an assessment of a country’s legal framework and practice in the area of political party financing, with advocacy for specific reforms to enhance transparency. It has been developed by Transparency International and the Carter Centre, and has been implemented in 8 Latin American Countries, and is now being extended to countries in Africa and Asia. 

Primarily objective data (e.g. the legal framework, accounting practices, experience-based questions about the ease of accessing finance data), with some subjective data (e.g. asking elected representatives about beliefs concerning the public’s right to information).

  1.  Elected representatives
  2. Auditors
  3. Government agencies
  4. Private sector
  5. Experts on political finance
 
The online database into which this information in input then generates the indexThe Crinis index is calculated by averaging 10 equally weighted dimensions of political party transparency.
 

 

1) Political parties’ internal book-keeping
2) Reporting to the electoral management body
3) Disclosure of information to the public
4) Comprehensiveness of reporting
5) Depth of reporting
6) Reliability of reporting
7) Prevention
8) Sanctions
9) State control
10) Public oversight

 

 
The first three dimensions reflect the different stages of transparency that can exist in political finance systems, the next three dimensions illustrate the characteristics of the data, and the last four dimensions focus on oversight mechanisms.
 
These 10 dimensions are broken down into more than 140 individual indicators, standardised with scales of 0 to 10, where 10 indicates that a country fulfils all criteria expected in terms of transparency and accountability, and 0 means no criteria are fulfilled. Indicators are weighted differently, for example, within the comprehensiveness of the reporting dimension (4), the private donation indicator is worth twice that of government subsidies.
 
Research questions distinguish between three different types of political financing: 1. non-electoral party finances, 2. party finances during election campaigns used to mobilise and communicate with voters, and 3. finances raised by candidates during election campaigns.
Transparency International oversees the implementation of Crinis projects. Research is carried out by a small research team, led by a locally renown specialist in the area of political finance; and is verified by a local professional. Hiring is done by Crinis coordinators based at the TI Secretariat in Berlin. Local TI Chapters follow all stages of research component, and are responsible for implementing a plan to promote reforms.
 
Data sources include:
  1. laws and regulations and other administrative data such as corruption cases and the activities of civil society organisations in this area;
  2. interviews with insiders (electoral magistrates and judges, political party staff, journalists and members of civil society);
  3. a survey of key actors on political reporting and dissemination and monitoring is carried out (e.g.  party accountants, elected politicians, electoral management body auditors, judges, businesspeople, and members of civil society watchdog groups) ;
  4. field tests are conducted to evaluate ease of citizen with varying levels of knowledge in accessing political finance data, as well as the response rates among bodies and institutions responsible for providing this information. Tests are conducted first two groups with different backgrounds and levels of know how, for the sake of comparison – first by the local research team and second by a group of volunteers (10 students, 5 journalists 15 citizens).
 
Data collected by the research team is fed into a series of eleven online questionnaires. Questionnaires are to be completed by:
  1. Leader of research team – on the legal framework, practice and public debate on political finance in the country
  2. Reasearch team – on the legal framework that regulates the political parties’ and electoral campaigns’ finance
  3. Research team – on compliance with laws and the identification of practices related to parties and campaign finance
  4. Research team – to verify the responsiveness of different stakeholders to requests of information on political finance from field tests
  5. Citizens, students and journalists - to verify the responsiveness of different stakeholders to requests of information on political finance from field tests
Questionnaires 6-11 are designed for interviewing insiders:
  1. Accountants of political parties

 

 

  1.  Book-keeping

    1. Is book-keeping mandatory?
    2. Are party accountants certified, by law?
    3. How professional is party staff, in practice?
    4. Party accounting practices: what is the regularity of book-keeping?
 
  1. Does the state disclose information on public subsidies?

    1. Direct public subsidies
    2. Indirect public subsidies
    3. Tax exemptions
 
  1. How responsive were stakeholders in terms of disclosure of information requested?

    1. How responsive is the EMB?
    2. How responsive are elected office holders?
    3. How responsive are parties?
    4. How responsive are donors?
    5. How responsive are media companies?

 

Yes: Diagnoses the functioning of accountability mechanisms at a highly specific level that enables the identification of targeted reforms. 
 
The index is built on de jure and de facto indicators, comprising 3 dimensions: levels of transparency (internal book-keeping of parties, reporting of state agency, disclosure to the public); quality of data (comprehensiveness, depth and reliability of reporting), and effectiveness of control mechanisms (preventive measures, sanctions, public oversight).
 
Problems such as a lack of oversight for private donations, scarce accountability by candidates, unreliable data delivered by parties, or cases where political finance data is not made public are revealed, enabling corrective action.

The method integrates both de jure and de facto measures. It evaluates regulatory systems separately from their application in practice. In terms of regulations, it compares national laws against universal criteria. In terms of practices, it uses indicators to compare experiences in the country against universal standards and attendant local provisions. The study then asks, i) based on universal standards, how accessible the data is to citizens; and ii) if existing sanctions in each country are applied in accordance with current legislation.