q MPs duck disclosure - The Copenhagen Post

MPs duck disclosure

Majority of Venstre and Liberal Alliance MPs refuse to share information about their financial interests


ParliamentÂ’s procedural council has asked all 179 members of parliament to provide a brief outline of their private economic interests on parliamentÂ’s website in the name of transparency.

Are they members of any boards of directors? Do they have large shareholdings in any companies? Do they draw a salary from a private company or public organisation? In short, do the politicians have personal financial interests that could become conflicts of interest?

The vast majority of MPs have complied with the financial disclosure, and their information can be found on their personal pages on parliamentÂ’s website.

But the MPs who have not complied overwhelmingly come from just two centre-right parties: the two largest opposition parties, Venstre and Liberal Alliance.

Out of VenstreÂ’s 47 MPs, 32 have neglected to provide the requested information. Out of Liberal AllianceÂ’s nine MPs, seven have not given theirs.

In total, 48 MPs have failed to come forward with the information about their private financial interests, and 39 of them come from Venstre and Liberal Alliance. The remaining nine are scattered across the ten other political parties.

While furnishing the information is voluntary, the poor showing of transparency from Venstre and Liberal Alliance has raised eyebrows among both politicians and academics.

“It’s striking that so many in Venstre and Liberal Alliance won’t add to the transparency. It creates the suspicion that they have something to hide,” the Socialistisk Folkeparti’s political spokesperson, Jesper Petersen, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Parliament’s president, Mogens Lykketoft (Socialdemokraterne), who is also chairman of the procedural council, underscored that the purpose of the project is simply to give voters a forthright “picture” of parliament’s personal economic interests.

“The picture isn’t conclusive when so many aren’t participating,” Lykketoft said.

Peter Munk Christiansen, a political science professor at the University of Aarhus, said it was noteworthy that so many in Venstre and Liberal Alliance had refused to comply.

“It looks like they are making it a matter of principle, but that could turn out to be dumb, because it gives the impression that they have something to hide,” Christiansen said. “I don’t think they’re up to anything mysterious. But if you agree that candour is a good idea, it looks strange that they won’t take part,” Christiansen said.

A leading Venstre politician – the former prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen – was behind the move in March 2005 to publicise the financial interests of ministers and their spouses on the website of the prime minister’s office. That makes it all the more ironic that so many Venstre politicians are now refusing to comply with the voluntary financial disclosure.

One of those MPs is the previous prime minister, Venstre chairman Lars Løkke Rasmussen, who told Jyllands-Posten he was not complying with parliament’s financial transparency project because there should instead simply be a level of trust between voters and politicians.

“We’re not interested in that administrative rigmarole,” he said.

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