Calls for more transparent party financing ahead of local election

Far-left party Enhedslisten reveals its budget for the 2013 local election campaign in Copenhagen and wants other parties to do the same

Political financing needs to become more transparent argues far-left party Enhedslisten (EL), which has published its campaign budget for the 2013 council election in Copenhagen and has urged other parties to follow suit.

Political spokesperson Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen (EL) made the call last Friday at the  political gathering, Folkemødet, on Bornholm. There she chastised the government for not living up to its campaign promise of improving the transparency of party financing.

“The government has been in power for almost two years,” Schmidt-Nielsen said. “But nothing has happened yet. That worries us because I doubt we will get greater openness about party financing if [leader of the opposition party Venstre] Lars Løkke [Rasmussen] wins the next election.”

EL has announced that it intends to put forth a proposal to require political donations of 5,000 kroner or more, including non-cash gifts to local chapters, to be published in party accounts along with donors’ names. The current maximum anonymous sum is 20,000 kroner.

EL pointed to a study by Ugebrevet A4 that revealed how private political donations rose from around 49.7 million kroner in 2005 to 82.3 million kroner in 2011 – three-quarters of the 2011 donations were given to centre-right parties.

“The least we can demand is full transparency and that voters can see who is paying for party adverts and how large the cheques are,” Schmidt-Nielsen said. “I don’t think that's too much to demand in a democracy.”

Yesterday, EL in Copenhagen published the details of their entire budget for the 2013 local election and encouraged political rivals to follow suit.

The party reported having 1,620,000 kroner available for the election to pay for posters, printed material and the salary of a campaign secretary for 12 months.

“There is a need for greater transparency about how much money the parties have for the election and where the money comes from,” Morten Kabell, EL’s leading candidate in the November’s election, stated in a press release. “Our challenge goes out to everyone but particularly to Pia Allerlsev (Venstre) and Rasmus Jarlov (Konservative) who are running for parties which normally receive a lot of financial support.”

Kabell added that it was particularly important for these parties to publish their list of donors given their historic close connection to business.

Allerslev, a deputy mayor and Venstre’s mayoral candidate for the 2013 elections, replied that her party had no plans to release details about its supporters, but she expected its budget to be no greater than one million kroner.

“I think that if someone wants to support me or Venstre’s campaign and wants to publicise it, then that’s their own responsibility,” Allerslev told Politiken newspaper. “I’m not entitled to release that information.”

Jarlov, the Konservativ candidate for mayor, welcomed calls for more openness.

“Historically we have been supported by businesses but with nothing that comes close to the amount that the left-wing receives from trade unions,” Jarlov told Politiken. “There are many myths about how money controls politics. If more transparency can help counter these myths, then I have no problem with it. If other parties follow suit, we will consider it.”