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Our View: Party funding nothing more than a political protection racket

The parties have been dragging their feet for years, ignoring the repeated recommendations of the GRECO

FOR 12 YEARS now, the political parties have been talking about the drafting of legislation that would oblige them to make public the sources of their funding. And although some pieces of legislation about the publication of party finances have been approved the law that would oblige parties to publish lists with the names of the individuals and companies contributing funds has still not been passed.

The parties have been dragging their feet for years, ignoring the repeated recommendations of the GRECO (Group of states against corruption) of the Council of Europe (CoE). GRECO had written to the House institutions committee last April urging it to speed up the passing of the legislation. This was to have been done before the summer recess of the House, but the parties once again put it off. Attorney-general Costas Clerides has written to the House president noting that the parties’ decision “puts at direct risk the course of implementation” of the GRECO recommendations.

The parties are obviously not too concerned that this would result in Cyprus being classed as ‘non-compliant’ in the CoE’s end of year report; it would not be the first time. These are the parties that are constantly advertising their alleged fight against corruption and supposedly doing everything they can to clean up public life. But what they zealously preach does not apply to them. Transparency is not necessary when it comes to money contributions to the parties. There can only be two reasons for the parties’ reluctance to divulge the identities of their contributors. One is that they do not want their members to know where they are receiving money from. For instance, the communists of AKEL would not like it to be known that their party was given money from wealthy businesses, when they are constantly attacking greedy capitalists.

The other, more sinister, reason is that their capacity for corruption would be restricted. It would be very difficult for a party that has received money from a developer to back a bill that would benefit the developer. And when the parties’ ability to dispense favours to their funders is curtailed by transparency they would find it difficult to secure funding. Parties secure funding in the same way they secure votes – in exchange for favours. It is a political protection racket, considering there are businesses that give money to all parties.

Transparency will limit this type of corruption, which is why the parties have, for years, been avoiding passing the legislation.

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