The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act (Commencement) Order 2012, signed on 27 September 2012, commenced sections 1, 2, 27 and 40 to 44, inclusive, of the Act with effect from that date. Sections 1 and 2 contain technical provisions. Sections 27, 40 and 41 introduced requirements on registered political parties to furnish an annual statement of accounts to the Standards in Public Office Commission, based on guidelines to be prepared by the commission.
The Act provides that before publication, the commission, following a consultation process, must submit the draft guidelines to the Minister for his or her consent to publication, with or without modification. Draft guidelines were submitted to me by the commission with a letter, on 14 November 2013, seeking my consent to publication. In performance of the statutory role assigned to me as Minister under the Act, I am currently giving consideration to these draft guidelines.
Sections 42, 43 and 44 of the Act provide that a registered political party will face a cut of half of its State funding under Part 3 of the Electoral Act 1997 if it does not have at least 30% women and 30% men candidates at the next general election. Seven years from the general election where this provision first applies, this figure will rise to 40%.
The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act (Commencement) (No. 2) Order 2012, signed on 6 November 2012, commenced all remaining sections of the Act on different dates in 2013. Each of these sections is now in force. The sections commenced in 2013 provide for additional requirements and restrictions on the acceptance of political donations and apply to Members of, and candidates seeking election to, the Dáil, Seanad, European Parliament and local authorities, and to political parties, third parties and candidates at a presidential election. The thresholds for the receipt and declaration of political donations have been reduced; restrictions were put in place on corporate donations; cash donations over €200 have been banned and additional transparency requirements affecting the reporting of donations have been introduced. These provisions will apply at all future elections.