Far-right parties’ incomes have skyrocketed ahead of the European Parliament elections

One in every four euros in private donations to political parties in the European Union (EU) has gone to far-right and populist parties, improving their finances by millions of euros ahead of crucial European Parliament elections next week.

At a time when polls predict a surge in support for ultra-conservative, Eurosceptic and pro-Russian parties, The Guardian publishes together with 26 other media and under the coordination of the research group. follow the money Report Transparency gapWith the most comprehensive analysis to date of political financing in the EU.

Data collected in the annual reports of more than 200 parties present in 25 countries show that between 2019 and 2022, private donations of 150 million euros were allocated to populist parties and parties with more extreme political options, representing 25%. For far-right groups alone, private donations amounted to more than 97 million euros. Or what is the same: 1 in every 7 euros.

For the analysis, a classification created for political parties by the research group The Populist was used, defining the extreme right as those with nationalist and authoritarian ideologies.

Most EU countries require parties to declare all their income, both from public and private sources, but rules vary greatly between the different member states and in some of them funding is a “black box”.

Three of the four parties do not publish any information or only part of the data regarding the people or companies behind the donations. A lack of transparency that can be achieved without breaking the country’s rules.

The investigation found no signs of irregularities, but a major report on party financing commissioned by the European Parliament concluded that the lack of transparency created corruption risks.

“All EU Member States have adopted rules regarding the notification and publication of donations, but there is considerable variation in what should be notified and published,” the report says. “There is often a serious discrepancy between the low notification threshold and the high publication threshold, and the average threshold of €2,400 carries potential corruption risks.”

According to Fernando Casal Bertoa, an expert on European political parties and systems, although “nothing prevents parties from publishing more detailed information than required by law, this is something that almost none of them do.”

“The parties are not interested in transparency; they believe it’s something that will limit them,” said Casal Bertoia, who works as a professor of comparative politics at the University of Nottingham.

When membership fees and donations from the party’s own politicians and officials are included in the financing calculations, the money raised by extremists and populist groups between 2019 and 2022 is a fifth of the total, around 500 million euros, according to the data. For far-right parties the amount was around 200 million euros. That’s 1 in every 11 euros.

In France, the three parties that have seen an increase in their financial support are Reconquista, from the UP’s Eric Zemmour; the National Rally, from the far-right, of Marine Le Pen; and France Insoumise, led by Manuel Bompard, from the left.

The three of them have gone from representing 13% of non-public wealth in France in 2019 to 38% in 2022, when Emmanuel Macron faces Le Pen in the second electoral round of the French presidential elections.

This non-public financing includes money from donors, membership fees and contributions from candidates and party officials themselves. Money received from state funding and donor loans is not included. Neither is income from fundraising events, merchandise and real estate properties.

In Latvia, where the number of anti-European and populist MEPs is predicted to increase significantly after the election, non-public funding of these parties has increased from 9% to 36% in four years, driven mainly by the right-wing populist party Latvia First.

Far-right and populist parties account for more than half of non-public financing in Slovenia, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Greece and Portugal, according to the analysis.

The Fidesz party has been ruling Hungary for 14 years and is also the party behind the cuts in the amount of state funds used to finance political parties. In 2022, Fidesz will capture 55% of all non-public funding.

According to polls for the European Parliament elections, nationalist and far-right parties are on track to take first place in Hungary and eight other EU states. These include Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland.

At a far-right rally held in Madrid in early May, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban sent a video message calling on “patriots to take over Brussels”. MEPs there, he said, were responsible for “fostering massive illegal immigration” and “poisoning our children with gender propaganda”.

Headed by Mateusz Morawiecki, the far-right Law and Justice (PiS) party rules Poland until December 2023. A close ally of Fidesz, Law and Justice accounted for 44% of all non-public funding in 2022.

According to the data, four populist parties in Italy took 55% of non-public funding in 2022. They were Brothers of Italy, by Giorgia Meloni, and the League, by Matteo Salvini, on the right of the political spectrum, in addition to Forza Italia and the Five Star Movement.

In some countries, left-wing parties make good progress. Like Greece, where the Communist Party (KKE) takes more than half of the non-public financing; and Portugal, where the Communist Party also has more than 50% of the total.

In most countries, state money is now the main source of income, with non-public money representing only 15% of available funds in Ireland and Belgium; and less than 25% in Spain, Hungary and Portugal.

In countries where private funding dominates, state contributions remain significant. For example, in Germany and the Netherlands, public financing represented around 45% of the funds received by parties in 2022.

Following a landmark ruling by Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court in 1992, the allocation of public funds to parties in that country is based on their “rootedness in society.” According to German authorities, this guarantees that “political parties will always have the support of citizens.”

Translation by Francisco de Zarate


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button