Government moves to regulate political foundations' activities

The coalition is creating regulations for foundations that seek to influence politics and plans to introduce them in the autumn. Legislation has already been drawn up that will give monitoring rights to the Political Party Funding Supervision Committee (ERJK).

Tarmo Jüristo, head of the Liberal Citizen Foundation (SALK), which advised liberal political parties — Reform, SDE, Eesti 200 — during the last Riigikogu elections, said this area should have been regulated a long time ago.

"Organizations, foundations, and NGOs such as SALK, which seek to directly influence and intervene in politics, their funding should certainly be transparent. I really think this is a security issue," Jüristo told Thursday's "Aktualane kaamera".

"We have our own operational goals, our own worldview goals and we work towards those and if things go well, hopefully, things will go in the direction we are working towards. But we don't have any clients, we've never sold any data, we're only working on donations," he said, describing SALK's activities.

Tarmo Jüristo. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Varro Vooglaid, head of the Foundation for the Protection of Family and Tradition (SAPTK), an EKRE MP, said large donations could be declared.

"If you want to exclude, for example, foreign influence, I think it would be reasonable if you had to declare whether you have received any funding from abroad," he said.

An amendment to the Political Parties Act was developed by Minister of Justice Maris Lauri (Reform), but her predecessor Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa) did not believe the issue to be a priority, Jüristo said.

However, on Wednesday, outgoing Isamaa Chairman Helir Valdor-Seeder said regulations should now be introduced.

Varro Vooglaid. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

"There was even a minor row about this at the last election, with Ismaa blocking the change. I am very pleased to see that Ismaa has now found this to be a priority," said Jüristo.

The new legislation would obligate political parties to inform the ERJK of their affiliated organizations on a quarterly basis.

The committee will have the right to request documents and information from third parties if there is a justified need, ERJK head Liisa Oviir said.

"We can ask for all these things now, but we do not get an answer, and this has been used by several individuals and organizations — you do not have the right to get information from us and we will not give you that information," she told AK.

Headquarters of the Political Party Funding Supervision Committee (EJRK) Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

However, Vooglaid does not think the ERJK should be in control of the process as it is not a state authority.

"All the functions that need to be carried out could very successfully be transferred to the National Audit Office," he said.

Minister of Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said that the government will continue to process the amendments, but drawing a line on who it applies to will be the most difficult aspect.

"How to regulate it so that everything is put down, but at the same time, so that we don't start to control civil society," Läänemets said.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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