Free Party membership at critical level and funding in decline

Free Party held its general assembly in Rapla on Sunday. June 9, 2019. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

Membership of the Free Party is in decline and has fallen to 526 people, while its revenue has dropped to just a few thousand euros. However, the party's chairman is making promises to run in the next local elections in 2021.

As of Oct. 21, this year, the number of members of the Free Party has fallen to 526. At the start of 2019, the Free Party had 578 members and at the beginning of 2017, 685 members. 

An official party must have a minimum of 500 members. If the number of members drops below the party can be deleted from the commercial register or liquidated. 

But Heiki Lill, who was elected chairman of the Free Party on June 9, does not think the party's future is so bleak, and believes the party will take part in the municipal elections in two years time.

"Life has shown that unless one goes by the name of the local elections, there is no hope of success in the Riigikogu elections," Lill told the ERR. He added the Free Party does not intend to join with another small party.

He also admitted that he had no good recipe for increasing membership. "It is necessary to motivate, and to motivate people, and try to be in the picture. Everything depends on the members themselves. The departures are primarily due to the fact that the Free Party has not been in the picture," Lill said.

As the Free Party did not receive sufficient support in the Riigikogu elections in March, it will no longer receive support from the state budget. "The only money comes from membership fees and donations," Lill said.

According to the ICRC's financial statements, the Free Party's revenue in 2019 was €120,735, of which €107,188 was government support. €11,794 was in cash donations and €1,753 in membership fees. At the same time, state support was received only in the first quarter (January to March), when the party was a member of the Riigikogu. In the following two quarters, the party's income was €2,454.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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