Parties agree to keep election funding unchanged despite crisis

Shrugging off concerns about public spending, Greece?s six main parties on Wednesday agreed to award themselves 10 million euros of taxpayers? money to cover their election costs, thereby matching the funding they received in 2009, before the crisis began.

In its first meeting ahead of the May 6 elections, the cross-party committee that decides issues such as state funding and TV coverage agreed that the five parties which won seats in Parliament three years ago, as well as the Ecologist Greens, who won a seat in the European Parliament in the same year, should receive a combined total of 10 million euros.

The money will be divided according to the party?s share of the vote. This means PASOK will receive roughly 4 million euros and New Democracy 3.4 million. Sources said that some party representatives asked for all the money now, but the law dictates only 60 percent be paid before voters go to the polls.

MPs narrowly agreed earlier this month to clear the payment of a 30-million-euro lump sum into parties? coffers. This related to one installment of regular state funding from last year and two from this year.

Representatives of four parties represented in Parliament but which did not take part in the 2009 elections – Independent Greeks, Democratic Alliance, Democratic Left and Social Pact – also took part in Wednesday?s meeting. They will not receive any state funding but they will be given guaranteed airtime on state and private TV channels.

PASOK and New Democracy will each get 33.3 percent of the coverage. The Communist Party (KKE), Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Ecologist Greens will share 22.6 percent. The remaining 10.7 percent will be shared among the four new parties. It will be divided according to the number of MPs they have.