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Can political parties become public?

For example, could the Democrat and Republican parties in the US carry out initial public offerings (IPOs), listing shares on NASDAQ and NYSE?

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    A public company has a board elected by shareholders. And the board can dictate the direction of the entity, fire the CEO, sell off divisions - how go you see that working ? Commented May 12, 2023 at 6:17
  • I’m voting to close this question because it's not about the law Commented May 12, 2023 at 6:50
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    @motosubatsu Why is not about the law? Political parties are legal entities, the question is whether they can turn themselves into publicly traded companies. (I am pretty sure the answer is "No", but it is a legitimate question.) Commented May 12, 2023 at 6:53
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    I’m voting to close this question because it belongs on politics.stackexchange.com Commented May 12, 2023 at 15:36
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    @BlueDogRanch Just because a question could be asked elsewhere doesn't mean that it is off topic here. Also it has been asked and closed on politics as of now. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/79556/…
    – Joe W
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 18:57

3 Answers 3

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In the US, most elected officials are state or local officials, and even elections for federal officials (representative in Congress, senator, and president) are conducted mostly under state law (with a few federal laws as well). Accordingly most regulation of political parties is done at the state level. As an example, the Vermont Secretary of State provides a web page with an overview of political parties.

In short, political parties must be organized in accordance with state law. Public notices must be provided informing the public about meetings of political parties so they can attend the meetings. Certain results of party meetings must be reported to the state. Funds used for political campaigns are heavily regulated.

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  • Thanks. By floating shares in the US exchange markets by both the Democrats and Republicans have advantages. The investors who purchase the shares from them and both the political parties who themselves are shareholders. They both will have Trading Symbols on the NASDAQ and NYSE. Commented May 13, 2023 at 3:09
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    I'm somehow missing an actual answer here. I guess the answer is "no" because of state laws? It would be nice to link or quote the laws that forbid making a party a stock traded company.
    – nvoigt
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 8:18
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    The answer might vary by state, but at least in Vermont political parties are in a category of their own. They are specifically recognized by law as a type of legal person recognized by state law. Other such types of legal persons recognized by state law include for-profit corporations and not-for-profit corporations. Commented May 14, 2023 at 11:40
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    In Vermont, political parties are organized under their own part of the law and have no authority to issue shares. A characteristic of for-profit corporations is their shareholder's have voting rights to govern the corporation. Political parties are governed by holding caucuses, which are open to all electors (the same people who are allowed to vote in political elections). By putting the electors in charge of political parties, there is no role for shareholders. I expect other states are similar to Vermont. Commented May 14, 2023 at 11:45
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not in

Germany has laws about founding, operating and financing political parties, the Parteiengesetz which demands certain organisatorial structures, and the Parteifinanzierungsgesetz, which is very explicit about how they can finance themselves and what a party needs to report. The only allowed gains are property proceeds (like from owning property or selling goods), membership fees, gifts to the party, and state sponsorship. Also, non-citizens are not allowed to give to a party unlimitedly. The parties also are also obligated under the basic law to report all financing they get, down to the cent. Their organisation form is strictly limited:

Parteien sind frei gebildete Personenvereinigungen im Sinne des Artikels 9 Absatz 1 GG, die sich auf der Basis des privaten Rechts nach den vereinsrechtlichen Regelungen des Bürgerlichen Gesetzbuches (§§ 21 bis 79 Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch - BGB) gründen. Sie sind in der Regel nicht rechtsfähige Vereine

This precludes them from being Aktiengesellschaften: they have to be organizations of people (Personenvereinigungen) that follow the BGB, and thus are not allowed to organize as an AG under the Aktiengesetz, which demands that an AG to not be an organization of people. So, a party can't be a stock company, and selling stock in a political party in Germany is not allowed under the framework and is thus neither possible nor legal.

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    How does this have 3 upvotes? Can you at least link or quote that law and which part exactly would make selling shares illegal compared to selling memberships?
    – nvoigt
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 6:57
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    @nvoigt there. The Parteifinanzierungsgesetz is worded in such a way that it only allows things, and all other is banned.
    – Trish
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 7:16
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    How do you explain that the actual law lists "Einnahmen aus Unternehmenstätigkeit," as a point in the mandatory "Rechenschaftsbericht"? I'm not saying you are wrong with your "no", but I think you are not correct about the reasons.
    – nvoigt
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 8:11
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    @nvoigt Unternehmenstätigkeit is owning or operating a business, e.g. owning property, shares in companies or similar. The point is, that the party itself can't be a traded company.
    – Trish
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 10:32
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Political parties are public

They just aren’t public companies.

Their organisational structure is similar to clubs - the are operated by and for the benefit of their members and, subject to their rules, they are open for anyone to join.

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