ND wants end to private donations

A day after a former PASOK cadre claimed that his party kept secret accounting books in the late 1990s in order to hide illegal contributions, the government attempted to steal a march on the main opposition party by saying that it intends to change the law on what funds political parties can accept. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlo-poulos said that the government is in favor of prohibiting all parties from accepting contributions from all private sources and allowing funds derived only from the state budget. The proposal seems to have met with the approval of most opposition parties. PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) deputy Fotis Kouvelis both expressed their support for the move. The Communist Party (KKE) was less supportive; its MP Achilleas Kantartzis said that «the two main parties are in agreement because they want all parties to be controlled by the bourgeois political system.» The right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) said that restricting the way parties can get hold of funds would only encourage them to accept under-the-table payments. The government announced its intentions on the back of claims by Theodoros Tsoukatos, a former aide of ex-Prime Minister Costas Simitis, that his party kept double books and accepted contributions above the legal limit. Tsoukatos has admitted accepting more than 400,000 euros from Siemens Hellas, which he says he paid into PASOK’s coffers, though this is denied by the party. PASOK leader George Papandreou attempted yesterday to distance himself from Tsoukatos’s claims, saying that the party had in recent years adopted a transparent policy with regards to contributions and that as a result it is not beholden to any financial donors. His comment was seen as indirect criticism of the way contributions were accepted when Simitis was in charge.