Regulation of political parties
The internal organization of main political parties has come into question in Australia over the second decade of the 21st century, for not conforming to the same democratic standards that underpin our electoral system. The lack of intra party democracy has been blamed for a high turnover in leaders and political instability. In Australia the original Federal Constitution drafted in 1900 regarded parties as voluntary private organizations, their rules generally unenforceable at law, with patchy regulation of funding and the role of lobbyists. This paper reviews other models such as that of Germany where Basic Law decrees that ‘parties help form the political will of the people’ and ‘their internal organization shall conform to democratic principles’. This paper outlines current problems, highlights deficiencies in the Australian regulatory models using comparative analysis, and concludes with suggestions for reform.