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Transparency International calls for a reform of German political party financing before the 2002 federal elections

“The existing proposals from the parties are full of loopholes”

Transparency International has appealed to the political parties represented in the German Bundestag to introduce party financing reforms before the federal elections in 2002. The reforms proposed so far by the Bundestag parties were "piecemeal and full of loopholes", according to the German chapter of the anti-corruption organisation. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's SPD has yet to come forward with any proposals of its own.

In Berlin today, Transparency International published a report, containing an analysis of the parties' existing reform proposals as well as Transparency International's own detailed reform suggestions. The report is being submitted to the Commission of Independent Experts into the Question of Party Financing appointed by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Johannes Rau. "The scandals surrounding party donations have shown that the regulation of party financing in Germany is inadequate," said the chairman of TI-Germany, Dr Michael Wiehen. "At the same time, it is very dispiriting that the political discussions in the aftermath of the party donations affair have still not drawn any conclusions," said Wiehen, introducing the report today. "Reforms must be carried out before the federal elections or they will be politically dead."

The analysis presented by TI-Germany comes just a few weeks before the Rau Commission's final report is due to be published. TI-Germany's core demands focus on the goal of introducing lower upper limits for donations, increased transparency, and more controls and tougher sanctions in the event of a breach of the regulations. The central demands include a restriction on corporate or individual donations to a maximum of DM 100,000 annually, and an outright ban on corporate donations to individual members of parliament or candidates. TI-Germany's concrete proposals are as follows:

  • A restriction on corporate or individual donations to any political party to a maxi-mum of DM 100,000 annually (no upper limit exists to date);
  • A restriction on individual donations to individual elected representatives or can-didates to a maximum of DM 50,000 annually (no upper limit exists to date);
  • A ban on corporate donations to elected representatives or candidates (no ban exists to date);
  • A restriction on cash donations to a maximum of DM 200 (no upper limit to date);
  • A change in the regulation stipulating when donations should be made public: at the federal level from DM 10,000 annually, at the Land level from DM 5,000, and at the communal level from DM 1,000 (the current regulation states that only donations above DM 20,000 annually have to be made public);
  • A requirement that donations to individual elected representatives or candidates should be made public when they exceed DM 5,000 annually, or from DM 2,000 annually in the case of smaller local councils (of up to 100,000 inhabitants);
  • Publication of the stipulated reports on the Internet as well (not required to date);
  • Effective sanctions, including through criminal law, as well as loss of mandate and removal of the right to stand as a candidate in the event of serious transgressions;
  • Control through an independent committee in the office of the President of the Bundestag, which would have unhindered access to all parties' financial records.

The report published by TI-Germany today supplements the reform proposals published by TI-Germany at the beginning of last year.

For further information, please contact:

  • Dr Michael Wiehen, Chairman,
    Tel. 089/48954440

  • Dr Ute Bartels, Executive Director,
    Tel. 089/48954440

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