Reduce the amount of state subsidies for political parties in 2024!

Expert Forum calls on the political parties in government to significantly reduce the amounts allocated for subsidies in 2024. According to the draft budget published for public debate, in 2024, the budget of the Permanent Electoral Authority could include 314 million lei for subsidies (some 63 mln EUR), even though the keyword on the other budget chapters is “austerity”. The money would be divided between six parties, based on the 2020 results. This is by far the largest amount ever allocated, the record so far being 258 million lei – also criticised on numerous occasions by civil society, including Expert Forum. In practice, the amount is almost 60-70 million more than in previous election years. One would have expected that following the continuous public pressure to reduce funds and increase transparency, political parties and the PEA would decide to decrease the budget, not increase it again.

Next year will be a very “expensive” election year, with four round of elections: political parties can not only finance their election campaigns from subsidies, but they can also be reimbursed for expenses if they do not use public money in their campaigns and pass the 3% threshold of votes, under certain conditions. In 2020, 145 million lei (some 30 mln EUR) were reimbursed in the parliamentary elections alone, compared to 42 million in 2016 (some 9,3 mln). Moreover, the almost exclusive use of campaign subsidies significantly limits any private contribution and political parties become exclusively state-supported entities, contrary to international standards and good practice.

We believe that an allocation of 314 million is far too high, as political parties already receive quite a high amount of money per capita (almost 3 EUR) compared even to Western countries where the living standard is higher. In addition, it is spent largely non-transparently. In the first nine months of the year alone, parties spent more than half of the money, i.e. 88 million lei (18 mln EUR), without any transparency and without marking political promotion materials (especially advertising through media), in the absence of any legal provisions requiring to mark these products as such. This kind of behaviour already affects the public’s right to fair information, freedom of the press and political and electoral competition. Increasing the amounts allocated to parties can only make matters worse and give even more power to a very small number of parties – cartelising the political offer and seriously limiting the chances of a new party entering the scene. We also recall that the leaders of PSD and PNL have not published the contracts for advertising, although they have promised to do so on numerous occasions.

On the other hand, taking into consideration the high budget deficit, the government imposed a series of austerity measures. If there is not enough public funding for investment or other expenditure for the community and for public interest, how can we increase allocations for political party funding?

Read more about subsidies on the EFOR platform

Septimius Pârvu, [email protected], 0787.638.315

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