Party finances: Centre debt twice Reform, many other parties owe nothing
Estonia's political parties have published financial information, giving a snapshot of their situation ahead of the March 2019 general election, as reported by daily Postimees.
Senior coalition party Centre has debts of around €400,000, and is dealing with the issue on a rolling basis, according to party secretary general Mihhail Korb.
"Our financial situation improved significantly after the sale of our office in the Old Town and we have been able to deal with various claims in a timely manner," he said; apparently this has halved their previous figure of €922,044, along with the €37,329 in donations received during the third quarter of 2018 (Q3 2018), as has the €361,760 in state subsidies.
Mr Korb expected Centre's campaigning costs ahead of the election to exceed €1 million.
Junior coalition partner Pro Patria is not in any debt, according to party secretary general Priit Sibul, down from €29,277 in 2017, though it expects to match the €1.5 million spent on the 2015 election, when it was still called IRL. Q3 2018 donations were €103,170; state subsidies: €187,579.
Social Democratic Party (SDE)
The other coalition partner, SDE, was in debt to the tune of €109,897 in 2017, but also owes nothing at present according to secretary Kalvi Kova. It plans to spend €1 million in electioneering and raised €42,642 in donations and got €200,978 in state subsidies in Q3 2018.
Reform, the largest party in terms of seats at the Riigikogu, is also in debt, though only half the amount of Centre at around €200,000.
Again, this figure is hugely reduced from the € 847,928 it owed at the beginning of 2018, secretary general Kert Valdaru said, with short term liabilities standing at €188,529.
"We are continuing to collect donations and membership fees and are conservative when it comes to budget issues," Mr Valdaru said.
Its Q3 2018 donations totalled €120,389 and it received €401,955 in state subsidies. Its 2015 election campaign cost the party €1.8-1.9 million, a figure which is likely to remain the same this time around.
Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE)
EKRE declined to respond to questions from Postimees., though in Q3 2018 it received €5,174 in donations and €93,790 in subsidies. In 2017, the party's debts and advance payments reportedly totalled €22,432.
The aptly named Free Party is currently in even less debt than it has members, ie zero. It owed a reported €20,720 in 2017, and expects to pay €400,000 in campaigning costs according to party secretary Alar Mutli . It took in €2,909 in donations and a state subsidy of €107,188 in Q3 2018.
The Green Party's debts to suppliers are "very small" compared with sums that have been paid, as against €24,770 in 2017, according to party secretary Joonas Laks. It plans to spend €100,000 on election campaigning, and €67,500 must be paid for a full election list deposit. The Greens raised €3,119 in donations in Q3 2018.
The other two recently formed political groups, Estonia 200 and the Biodiversity Party, have yet to have sufficient members to qualify as a political party legally and so do not need to publish the corresponding financial information.
The general election is on 3 March 2019.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte