Estonian parties collected the lowest amount of membership fees in the last eight years in 2019, on average each party was paid less than €2 by each member for the year.
The Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee's website has published data on party membership dating back to 2013. According to the data, a record low amount of fees, also known as dues, were paid by members in 2019, totaling €109,370.
Commercial Register data shows nearly 57,000 people belonged to political parties as of January 13, which means they paid an average membership fee of €1.90 per year.
However, if only contributors are counted, who numbered 5,028 last year, then the average donation paid by each person was €21.
Dues paid also fell last year for most political parties.
Between 2015 and 2018, dues paid to the Center Party were in excess of €60,000 per year, but last year they halved to €29,470.
The Reform Party also saw a considerable drop. Between 2015 and 2018, annual dues consistently exceeded €25,000 in total, but last year dropped to €12,097.
Members of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) followed a similar trend, which saw revenues from membership fall from around €30,000 a year to €18,630.
Dues paid by the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) dipped slightly from €17,288 in 2018 to €15,859 last year, but this was still higher than any other year between 2013 and 2017.
However, Isamaa saw revenue from dues increase significantly. Isamaa's total, which had hovered around €10,000 since 2013, increased to €25,556 last year.
However, last year, a record amount of donations were raised — over €3.5 million in total. The previous record high of €2.1 million was set in 2015. Both of these years were election years.
All major parties also set records last year with the amount of donations they received. The €843,000 raised by the Center Party is also the largest amount ever raised by a political party in Estonia over the course of one year.
Isamaa's €730,000 and Reform Party's €690,000 were also the highest amounts each party had ever received.
At the same time, 2019 was also a record-breaking year in terms of party spending. In the Riigikogu and European Parliament elections, political parties spent a total of approximately €11.1 million. In 2015, the year of the last Riigikogu elections, €8.5 million was spent.
The Reform Party had the highest expenses, totaling €2.9 million. Not far behind was the Center Party with €2.4 million and Isamaa with €1.9 million. The costs for the SDE were nearly €1.6 million and for EKRE they amounted to almost €1 million.
The biggest expense ever recorded was made by the Center Party in 2017. In that year, where local government council elections were held, the Center Party's costs amounted to €3.5 million.
Editor: Helen Wright