Political scandals now are of a daily occurrence. You don’t need to be working in politics to hear and read about them everywhere. Donald Trump has just been indicted. The European Parliament’s Vice President was arrested, and now just been moved to house arrest recently. Two former Bulgarian ministers were sanctioned by the US earlier this year. It’s almost more difficult to find a country where some political scandal isn’t happening, or just happened recently than one with a “clean record.”
All this noise around these events can be interpreted as a ‘good riddance’ and a natural ‘self-cleaning’ process of the political sphere, that needs to happen from time to time, and reporting such activities should be encouraged internally and externally as well. Nevertheless, some people might understand them as examples of betraying another, and backstabbing each other; something that should be frowned upon and definitely not cherished and supported. In this article, I will bring arguments for the former, and hopefully leave you with some useful ways and tactics of creating and fostering an environment that is able to do self-checks, while also being able to still look into the mirror, as a community, and as an individual, at the end of the day.
In the everyday business world, such policies and whistleblowing usually go under what we call “compliance policies” and annual mandatory training is assigned to each employee. As part of these compliance policies there is usually an anonymous report line in place, where each employee can make claims without fearing retribution. This should be a great way to start off for any political organization, however rigorous it might sound at first. By implementing such training as well as an anonymous report line you are instantly able to cover to areas.
Firstly, no one will ever be able to say “I didn’t know about this not being the right thing to do” as it is an annually repeated training that covers all areas that could be seen as ‘non-compliant’ or wrongdoing. I’m pretty sure we all have heard about “ignorantia juris non excusat” i.e. ignorance of the law excuses not – which basically means that that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability. Yet we still hear it way too often that someone claims that they were not aware of their wrongdoings, and that is why they did what they ended up doing.
Secondly, by creating an anonymous report line – which is btw. pretty easy to do given today’s online easily accessible apps and software – you also remove the fear of retribution part from the equation, even if not completely. As a next step on this, however, the best thing to do is that the end of this reporting line sits outside of your organization, or at least with someone who is not involved with the daily dealings of your party. Conflict of interest is usually the other main obstacle in operating these clear ‘whistleblowing mechanisms’ as unfortunately, it happens many times that even if the reporting itself does take place, the investigation is not thoroughly carried out and it gets lost in murky waters of personal political gains and games, assumed losses, or even in the interest of a ‘greater good’.
The last step, of course, is to make sure that correct, proportionate, and fair punitive measures are in place that are always clearly communicated in advance to all (as part of your own compliance program and training), and that these are always followed and abided by.
Create the framework, train your people, provide them with tools and support, and then abide by your own rules and regulations. If you follow these steps, and you also pay attention to clear and candid communication along the way you will soon realize that whistleblowing can only work for the benefit of your party, and you will not only be able to create more trust and reliability internally but also externally towards the public and your potential voters as well. And after all, getting votes is the very goal of your party wherever you are in the world.