OPINION

Editorial

The draft bill on the funding of political parties and on the pre-election activity of political groups and deputy candidates contains some interesting provisions, raising hopes that the current, ludicrous situation will improve. A positive change is the ban on companies, both private and state-run, from subsidizing parties and deputies and the introduction of a ceiling on individuals’ donations to parties (5 million drachmas annually) and to deputies (1 million). At the same time, the recipients have to publish the names of individual donors who give more than 500,000 drachmas to a party or 50,000 drachmas to an individual candidate. The decisions to forbid parliamentary candidates from running personal election centers and parties from purchasing radio and television air time in the pre-election period were also unanimously approved. Banning TV appearances by ministers and deputy ministers during the electoral period – apart from emergency cases – and barring deputy candidates from appearing more than once on each radio or television medium will no doubt help put a break on the provocative and unfair promotion of candidates. Penalties will be hefty as parties can be deprived of their annual subsidy, while candidates who have breached the expenditure threshold may be stripped of their parliamentary office. Although there are no reservations over the essence of the provisions, there are serious doubts over whether they will be properly implemented once they acquire legal status. First, when the top candidates of the two major parties far exceed the legal threshold by spending hundreds of millions of drachmas, there is no way that they will respect the legal framework unless there is also a realistic revision of the allowable pre-election expenditure. Furthermore, experience has shown that the aforementioned transgressors escape unscathed while hundreds of candidates of minor political groups must pay hefty fines for not having published their balance in a daily newspaper. So far, the relevant law has been used to veil the parties’ and candidates’ political and economic entanglements. Although one cannot be very optimistic, it’s worth waiting to see whether the new legislation will improve the current situation or whether it will degenerate into a cloak veiling the plight of tangled interests in the political domain.