Update – 28 December 2021
The Save Romania Union challenged the budget law at the Constitutional Court. The CC decided that the budget law is constitutional, but the articles referring to the subsidies for PPUSL was suspended until Law 334/2006 is also amended accordingly.
The signatories of this letter are protesting against the approval in the parliamentary commissions of an amendment to the Budget Law for 2022 which allows the modification of the criteria according to which the subsidies for political parties are allocated. We consider that this change is not justified and generates unpredictability and arbitrary criteria regarding the legislation on the financing of political parties. The amendment comes in the context in which, again, the budget law allocates exorbitant amounts of public money to political parties. We call for the rejection of these proposals and for the strict application of the principle of party financing according to the votes received from the citizens.
According to the report issued by the Committee on Budget, Finance and Banking on 22 December, an amendment allows that in 2022, by derogation from the provisions of Law 334/2006 on financing the activity of political parties and election campaigns, three quarters allocated for subsidies to be distributed to political parties that had at least one deputy or senator affiliated to a parliamentary group at the end of the first parliamentary session of 2021. According to the current version of the law, only those parties that participated in the last parliamentary elections obtained 50 mandates of county or general councilor in the local elections have the right to receive subsidies according to the number of votes obtained. We note that this amendment serves exclusively the Party of Humanist Power (Social-Liberal), as the four initiators of the amendment are members of the party affiliated to the PSD group in the Chamber of Deputies. We also recall that the PPUSL received about 1% of the votes in the 2020 parliamentary elections.
The situation is similar to that of 2020, when by derogation the funds were distributed based on the total number of parliamentarians registered in each of the political parties on 1 January 2020, even though they did not participate in the previous elections. Thus, the Pro Romania Party and the National Force received funds. It should be noted that this criterion was also proposed by the same initiators this year, but that amendment was rejected; this would have probably disadvantaged the PNL.
It is unacceptable for political parties to use all sorts of derogations to change the rules for funding political parties at will. According to the amendment, the methodology to calculate he subsidies is done by decision of the PEA, which is also a derogative regulation. The continued use of the derogations violates the constitutional principle of legal certainty.
The draft budget for 2022 is also notable for the high level of allocations. No less than 234 million lei (47 million EUR) have been allocated for this chapter, at the same level as the final allocations in 2021. Political parties do not even manage to spend these funds or do so for expenses that are difficult to justify. More importantly, in a general context of rising prices and declining real incomes, the exorbitant sums allocated to political parties are a moral challenge to all citizens.
If the Parliament intends to amend the legislation on party funding and subsidies in particular, it could start with other priorities, leading to balancing the allocation of funds and increasing the transparency of their spending. We believe that political parties should receive funding, but within certain limits, in a transparent and fair manner, serving their development for the public benefit. We reiterate some of the proposals already made, including through the position paper of the Coalition for the Electoral Code:
- To cap the limits for state subsidies. Non-governmental organizations have made numerous requests in this regard in recent years. EFOR appealed to the Government for a decrease of funds (from 234 million lei) on 10 December, without receiving any answer
- To lower the threshold for allocating subsidies for results in local elections
- To consider the allocation of subsidies to some parties that did not pass the electoral threshold, but obtained a representative number of votes
- To increase the share (currently 25%) of the subsidy granted for the results obtained in the local elections, in order to increase the capacity of the political parties without resources and to diversify the electoral market
- To return of unused money at the end of the year, according to the recommendations of the Court of Accounts
Last but not least, we emphasise that the approval of the state budget was made in a very short time and did not allow any real public debate on the priorities and possible amendments.
Center for the Study of Democracy
Center for Public Innovation
Movement for the Development of Moldova
CeRe: Resource Center for Public Participation