Attempt to cut party funding

Political parties should receive 25 percent less state funding and a ceiling should be set on the amount of taxpayers’ money they can claim, Interior Minister Tassos Yiannitsis proposed to a parliamentary committee on Monday.

Yiannitsis submitted his proposals a few weeks after informing the institutions and transparency committee that Greece’s parties had received some 550 million euros during the past decade from public coffers. He also revealed that despite the worsening economic situation they had claimed 54 million euros last year, compared to 48 million in 2010.
One of the reasons the funding rose is that it is linked to the state’s projected revenues. Yiannitsis proposed that this practice be stopped and that the funding be based on the revenues raised in the previous year.

The issue of party funding has grown in prominence over the last few weeks given the further austerity measures that the government has adopted as part of Greece’s new bailout. Many voters believe the parties are not willing to make the same sacrifices that they are demanding from citizens. This sentiment was strengthened when it was revealed last week that PASOK and New Democracy, which owe a combined total of some 250 million euros, tried to pass an amendment through Parliament that would have reduced the interest rate on their loans.

Party funding is also relevant to the upcoming elections as polls suggest that the number of parties that will get into Parliament, and therefore be able to claim public money, is set to rise from the current five that were elected in 2009.

It is expected that two ousted PASOK MPs, Louka Katseli and Haris Kastanidis, who were both ministers, will announce the formation of a new party this week with the aim of competing in the upcoming elections. Sources suggested that as many as 10 former PASOK lawmakers will join them.

Up to 15 New Democracy deputies, who like their PASOK colleagues were ousted from their party for voting against Greece’s new bailout, are expected this week to join the Independent Greeks party, founded by another conservative outcast, Panos Kammenos. The party was launched on Sunday.

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