Jüri Ratas: A ban on parties receiving private person donations possible
Center Party chairman and previous prime minister Jüri Ratas said a discussion on parties receiving finances needed for their activities from the state budget could be started in the Riigikogu, eliminating the possibility of private persons donating to parties.
"There needs to be a fundamental change here. The Riigikogu could think - perhaps it is right for the donations of private persons to end and parties should purely be on the state budget. Those outside of the Riigikogu would also receive support and new parties would have a system developed that would allow for them to apply for support, in order to take their ideas and program to voters," Ratas said in an interview to Vikerraadio.
Responding to a question posed by ERR's Toomas Sildam about if this regulation would halt private persons donating to parties completely, Ratas said: "Yes, the idea is if we talk about how to make the funding of parties as clear as possible, it could be considered. It is so that parties would not receive donations from private persons any longer. Different parties have had problems with this question, including Center. I think this would make our political culture more transparent, more clear and better."
Ratas noted that if parties were to operate only on membership fees and state support, the state's support needs to be regulated. "It would not be completely fair to draw the line at large and small parties, it depends on how many seats you hold [in the Riigikogu]," he added.
The former prime minister did not say if Center would present a respective bill to the parliament. "This discussion should involve the entire Riigikogu, do other parties want this or not. That is how it would be reasonable to do, not just by one party... It is not taking a political point, but making financing more transparent. This also would mean specialists are involved, dealing with anti-corruption activities and party financing questions daily," Ratas said. "After all, everyone has the same wish, so these problems would not arise in Estonian politics."
The possible mishappenings of party financing most recently came up in January, when the Public Prosecutor's Office announced it suspects the Center Party and Mihhail Korb, Center's Secretary-General at the time, of corruption. In the aftermath of the announcement, Jüri Ratas resigned as prime minister of Estonia, leading to a government change, which put Reform Party chairwoman Kaja Kallas and her government into power. Center Party still remained in government, forming a coalition with Reform.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste