Former Chief Justice Opens Political Party Funding Debate ({{commentsTotal}})

MP Rait Maruste Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Reform Party MP and former Chief Justice Rait Maruste has drawn sharp criticism for a proposal he floated at yesterday's Constitutional Committee meeting to lift the ban on business donations to political parties.

Maruste suggested allowing companies to make donations of up to 100,000 euros.

“Estonian political parties are in essence state parties that live only on taxpayer money,” Maruste told Äripäev today.

He said the most important factor in the donation process would be transparency, with specific criteria in place for the companies such as being active, having an unblemished reputation and no tax debt.

Criticizing the idea, former government minister Olari Taal told Äripäev that companies do not have world views, only business interests.

He said that to solve problems created by the current economic situation, political parties should be making cutbacks rather than seeking corporate support.

University of Tartu professor Jüri Saar agreed with Taal, adding that Maruste is dealing with the wrong end of the problem.

He said that parties should review their financial needs rather than seeking extra revenue.

The Constitutional Committee is currently in the process of debating changes to the Political Parties Act, and Parliament's factions have said they will comment on the subject in the next few weeks.

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