Challenges of political party regulation in the EU: Corruption, hate crime and corporate liability

Date & time
4–5pm Wednesday 6 September 2017

Phillipa Weeks Staff Library

ANU College of Law, 5 Fellows Road, The Australian National University

Dr Aleksandar Marsavelski, Visiting Fellow, ANU Centre for European Studies


For interstate visitors, we offer suggestions for accommodation near ANU.

Nicole Harman

Presented by The ANU Centre for European Studies and the Centre for International & Public Law

Aleksander Marsavelski

The political processes of most European countries today are dominated by one or more political parties. Political parties typically control two out of three branches of government: the legislative and the executive branch, leaving only the judiciary independent from their influence. Thus, political parties have become the centres of state power. Regardless of the type of government in which they operate, political parties have the formal duty to conform their activities with the law, while their material duty is to act for the citizen’s welfare. But what if political parties violate the law or act against the well-being of the people?

The answer to this question could be a way to improve governance. It is about developing policies to regulate political parties in a responsive way to their unlawful activities, and to acts that are totally against the citizen’s welfare, such as corruption and hate crime. Corruption behind political populism and hate crime behind right-wing extremism are the biggest challenges of regulating political parties in contemporary Europe, because they undermine democracy. Militant democracy theory requires a state reaction to undemocratic elements in the society. So far, this task was entrusted to the constitutional courts in Europe, but is that sufficient?

The EU adopted legislation to fight corruption, racism and xenophobia. It also passed a regulation governing European political parties, which, inter alia, determined that every political party at European level needs to meet the condition that 'it must have legal personality in the Member State in which its seat is located'. The effect of affording political parties legal personality is allowing the possibility of holding them criminally liable in a number of European countries that regulate corporate criminal liability. By allowing criminal liability of political parties, according to responsive regulation theory, the regulatory pyramid becomes more complete, which also means more effective. These theoretical observations shall be applied on three case studies from Europe.


  • Aleksandar Marsavelski »

    Aleksandar Marsavelski is an Assistant Professor in the Zagreb Law Faculty (Chair of Criminal Law).

    He graduated summa cum laude in 2008 from the University of Zagreb, where he received the Dean´s Award for Excellence and Rector´s Award for Best Paper. After graduation, he worked as junior assistant in the Ministry of Justice of Croatia, and then became a member of the Law Commission that drafted the Criminal Code of Croatia. Since 2010 he has taught at the University of Zagreb, and has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Croatian Unit of UNESCO Chair in Bioethics. In 2011 he was a member of the Law Commission that drafted the Law on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to Crimes of War Profiteering in Croatia. He was also one of the initiators of the Law on the Rights of Victims of Sexual Violence during the War in Croatia.

    He earned his LL.M. from Yale Law School, where he served as editor of the Yale Journal of International Law. He received the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law's doctoral scholarship in 2014-2015 for his joint PhD on political party crime at the University of Freiburg (summa cum laude). Since 2014 he has been a member of the Max Planck Partner Group for "Balkan Criminology" and has been involved in the TransCrim project. Since 2016 he has been a member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Commission on Corporate Responsibility and Anti-corruption, advisor of the Korean Transitional Justice Working Group, and a foreign secretary general of the Research Center for EU Criminal Law at the Institute of Law, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in China. He is also a collaborator on the Peacebuilding Compared project, and a member of the European Criminology Group on Atrocity Crimes and Transitional Justice (ECACTJ).

    Aleksandar Marsavelski received the Annual Best Young Scientist's Paper Award from the Society of University Professors, Scholars and Other Scientists in Zagreb in 2015 for the article Responsibility of Political Parties for Criminal Offences: Preliminary Observations, Challenges and Controversies.

    His latest article is Did Nonviolent Resistance Fail in Kosovo? British J. of Criminology (2017).

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