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(Non) transparency in the financing of political parties

tm izvestaj 1Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOOM) and Transparency Macedonia (TM) organized a round table titled ‘Transparency in the financing of political parties’ on November 17, on the occasion of the publication of the results from the first periodic report.

In his opening address, Professor Vanco Uzunov emphasized that the financing of political parties is still unclear and vague, and it is a fertile ground for corruption, not only because of the inconsistencies in the way it is being regulated, but also in the way it is applied. The Republic of Macedonia, through a series of laws, has committed itself to provide equal access to the funding sources of all political parties, and to provide an efficient control mechanism to guarantee accountability and transparency in the financing of political parties. However, there are many inconsistencies among the political parties and state institutions which had competencies over the process. The state institutions do not fulfill their competences, as for the political parties – there is an impression that there is a consensus among them not to talk openly about their financing.

Dance Danilovska from FOOM noted that the constant reminders from the European Commission that ‘the transparency of public expenditures and the financing of political parties remains incomplete’ are both an incentive and an idea for the implementation of the project ‘Transparency in the financing of political parties’.

Iskra Andreeva from TM explained that the research, conducted according to the legal framework valid until October 2011, indicates that the political parties do not abide by the stipulated forms of reporting on the current funding. At the same time, the survey that is using access to public information as the only tool for collecting data from the political parties and the competent institutions, indicates that this law is also not fully implemented in Macedonia. A large percent of the parties have not submitted the data, or have ignored the request.

For professor Renata Treneska Deskoska, the biggest problem is the lack of will among key political factors to incorporate actual solutions in the Election Code. The Election Code adopted in 2006, has so far undergone substantial changes twice, in 2008 and 2011. According to her, the development of the changes from 2006 until 2011 indicates that the changes have not been made with good intentions. ‘What was criminal in 2006, we have legalized in 2011’ stressed Deskoska. As an example, Deskoska cited the case with the media. On one hand, the obligation of the media to provide equality in the promotion of political parties during the election campaign is contradictory with the possibility for the media to appear in the role of donors on the other hand. According to Deskoska, the financial reports do not answer the question of how the donors should be defined and whether they are indeed donors. Therefore, she believes that the provisions should not remain only on a formal level, but must provide ways for examining the origins of funds obtained from donors.

tm izvestaj 1Professor Nikola Tupancheski, former representative of GREKO (Group of countries against corruption) emphasized that there is neither will nor capacity among the institutions to prevent the abuse in political party funding. According to him, the legal norm exists, but is not applied in practice. Tupanceski regretfully concluded that the main problem in Macedonia is the selective application of the law, i.e. the law is applied under the guise of political interests.

Assistant professor Predrag Trpeski noted that problems in this area are deeply rooted in the way of work of the parties, and are also caused by the poor functionality of the mechanisms for controlling the funding of political parties. According to him, only a small circle of party members have control and insight into the financing, hence, the financing of political parties begins to resemble a private business. Trpeski believes that the strengthening of control mechanisms is the only way to avoid abuse.