Campaign funding under a reformed voting system in Portugal

Through its mission, Institute of Public Policy aims to support a more open Portugal, in two ways: working for better, more open and transparent public governance; and, on the other hand, making the debate more open to the world, promoting individual freedom and social justice.

The Campaign funding under a reformed voting system in Portugal (preferential voting model) project, with the support of the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD), is based on the elements shared by the values and mission of both FLAD and Institute of Public Policy, and aim to provide a contribution to improve the quality of democracy in Portugal.

Discussion about voting system reform are almost as old as Portuguese democracy, but it has been impossible to implement significant reform, given the strong resistance of the dominant political parties.

More recently, a lot of work has been put towards consolidating the different discussions in a very concrete, solid reform proposal, which can be more easily implemented, based on a preferential vote system (see IPP Policy Paper 6, “Introduction of the preferential vote in Portugal: an electoral experiment” (in Portuguese) on this topic). This system would encourage stronger interaction between political parties and voters, imposing a division of responsibility as to the composition of party lists.

The challenges posed by funding individual campaigns is the most valid criticism of this voting model and one of the main barriers against its implementation. Thus, a study focusing on this question is necessary so as to understanding what is the best way to provide it with a solid answer, based on a review of best practices in other countries.

There is no international research done regarding the topic of campaign funding under a preferential vote system, so this study was really pioneering and could  have an impact both in the Portuguese and global policy debates on voting system reform.

Project outputs

In October 2017, the Institute of Public Policy organized a seminar on the Portuguese Electoral System: problems and solutions, with Portuguese political parties and experts on the subject, to discuss the referred Policy Paper and the reform of the electoral system.

The culmination of works resulted in the publication of an e-book, whose chapters are the result of presentations made at the seminar, resulting from a work of comparative analysis and literature review, also leading to the production of a work focused on synthesizing international experience. The first chapter of the e-book (“Opening Pandora’s box: the problem of campaign funding in a preferential voting system“) corresponds precisely to the principles for a concrete proposal to address the issue of campaign funding in a reformed voting system based on the preferred voting model.

Get here the e-book

(in Portuguese)


Marina Costa Lobo

Senior Research Fellow - Coordinator

Sofia Serra da Silva

Senior Research Fellow