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The Limits of Regulation: Indirect Party Access to State Resources in Australia and the United Kingdom



The way in which political parties use state resources indirectly (e.g., parliamentary expenses) receives substantial attention in public debate, particularly when surrounded by perceptions of misuse. However, scholarly studies of resources indirectly available to parties through their functions in the state, how they are used and regulated, are rare. This article presents an analytical framework that identifies and categorizes the range of indirect resources linked to parties' institutional roles. It locates these resources within a four-fold matrix of regulation, distinguishing regimes that vary in their detail and whether compliance is externally monitored. Undertaking comparative case studies of parliamentary resource use in the United Kingdom and Australia, we argue that the blurring of party-political and parliamentary roles can impede the effectiveness of regulatory regimes that democracies adopt, regardless of detail and external enforcement. These findings have important implications for regulatory reforms that seek to constrain parties' behavior to depoliticize democratic governance.