ATHENS – Greece’s political parties, funded by taxpayers, will be allowed to get private contributions but will now have to account for how they spend their money.
Legislation before Parliament is aimed at revising the way political partie are funded by limiting the amount of taxpayers’ money they receive, increasing transparency regarding donations and preventing them from borrowing against future revenues.
The ruling parties of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives and his partner the PASOK Socialists, besides drawing public money, owe banks 250 million euros, aren’t paying, haven’t reported where the money went, and are still laying off staff they haven’t paid.
One of the most significant changes is for parties represented in Parliament to receive taxpayers’ money based on a 0.005 percent share of net revenues from the previous year rather than 0.102 percent state revenue projected in the national budget. Until now, parties had received public funding based on expected revenues, which often fell short of the target, leaving the parties better off than the state.
In terms of state funding per vote, Greek parties have one of the highest ratios in the European Union, leaving them reliant on the public coffers. This year they are getting 10 million euros, with New Democracy getting the largest share (820,386 euros) as it won the last general elections.
The bill also prevents parties from obtaining bank loans by using future state funding as collateral, one of the key reforms demanded by the country’s international lenders who were said to be aghast at how parties get their money in Greece.
All parties will be required to have a maximum of three bank accounts, whose details must be registered with a committee that will monitor party finances. If extra accounts are discovered, their contents will be seized as an anti-corruption measure.
All donations must be made to these accounts and the details of the donors must be made public, according to the would-be law, Kathimerini said. The maximum donation that can be made in the course of a year will be 20,000 euros. Donations from abroad will not be permitted.
The draft law adopts most, although not all, of the 16 recommendations regarding changes to party funding made by The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), a body set up by the Council of Europe.