Financing to political parties has increased by 33 per cent since 2018, Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said on Friday, throwing in his two cents on a discussion over the consolidated annual funds parties receive from the state.
During a debate between presidential candidates on Wednesday night, the issue was raised by one of the independent candidates Yiorgos Colocassides, who claimed he had not received financing for the elections, while other candidates had.
However, this was quickly denied by other candidates.
Petrides stepped in to say that parties prior to 2017 received separate funds for elections and for the parties themselves but since 2018 both funds had been consolidated.
Under a 2021 law, the funds are dispersed at the beginning of January in five equal instalments.
Petrides said that in 2016, the respective budget included a clear separation of the sponsorship given to the parliamentary parties, in regular sponsorship, which amounted to €4 million, and €2.6 million for the conducting of elections.
The latter amount used to be given only during election years meaning twice in a five-year period but since 2018, it was added into the combined amount given annually of €6.7 million, resulting in a de facto increase in funding of 33 per cent.
It now amounts to €33.5 million in five years, compared to €25.2 million in five years prior to 2018.
“It is for this reason that as minister of finance, I rejected in August 2022 a request by parties to the President of the Republic to give an emergency grant for the 2023 elections,” said Petrides. “In no way can the claim by parliamentary parties that state sponsorship does not include grants for presidential elections be accepted. It includes it,” he added.
On Thursday, main opposition Akel-backed independent candidate Andreas Mavroyiannis published the financing he received from the party for his campaign. Mavroyiannis called on his fellow candidates to do the same.
According to what was published, Akel contributed €510,000 to the candidate’s campaign.
Mavroyiannis’ main opponents with party support, Averof Neophytou and Nikos Christodoulides did not publish the party contributions.
Christodoulides went as far to say during Wednesday’s debate that he had not received even one cent from the parties that supported him, which are Diko, Depa, and Edek.
Also, during the debate, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides made it clear in his statement on Twitter that sponsorship to the parties is given uniformly.