Paper: Greens claiming former members' unpaid fees to shore up finances

Green Party chair Züleyxa Izmailova at a climate change protest on Toompea last September.
Green Party chair Züleyxa Izmailova at a climate change protest on Toompea last September. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

The Estonian Green Party has been demanding membership fees from former members, using a debt collection agency, daily Postimees reports.

The Green Party, which has been in financial difficulty for about a decade and faces demands from the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK) to pay off debts, has a current membership fee of €48 per year, Postimees writes (link in Estonian), with concessions for the unemployed, students and senior citizens, and does not receive state subsidies, which are only granted to the largest parties in proportion to their size and Riigikgou representation.

The board opted to claim owed fees from former members last November, taking on debt collection agency Julianus Inkasso to pursue the matter, following the sending of reminders, a move which party leader Züleyxa Izmailova says is justifiable on the grounds that when joining the party, the former members entered into an agreement under party statutes which included undertaking to pay the fee, adding that recoursing to the agency is often not needed in reclaiming unpaid fees.

A former member who spoke to Postimees and asked to remain anonymous said that their outstanding fees of €140 were supplemented by Julianus' €40 administration fee, both of which the member paid.

Former Greens leader Marek Strandberg, who left in 2014, said that he opposed the idea as setting a poor precedent and image for the party, though he understood the pressures from the ERJK the party, whose membership numbers 952 and who collected €2,559 in membership fees in Q1 2020 (61 percent of members) along with 18 donations totaling €4,060 according to Postimees - to pay off its debts.

The Green Party polled 1.8 percent at the March 2019 general election; a minimum of 2 percent of the vote is required to qualify for state subsidies, and 5 percent of the vote is the threshold to get Riigikogu seats.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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