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New bid to curb secret political party donations

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10:24 CET+01:00
On the heels of continued international criticism over Sweden's lack of political party funding transparency, new efforts are underway to ban anonymous party donations.

In a report on corruption published earlier this week, the European Commission urged Sweden to consider a general ban on anonymous political party donations. Sweden remains one of few EU countries without total party-funding transparency, and the government came under fire last month when it decided to keep the lid on private donations.

While it's too late to enact a ban ahead of this year's European parliamentary and Riksdag elections, Sweden's main centre-left opposition parties have put forward a new proposal to address the issue.

"Together we're proposing a bill which, instead of a direct ban against giving or receiving anonymous donations to parties, aims at requiring parties that seek funding from the state to refrain from accepting anonymous contributions," representatives from the Social Democrats, Greens, and Left Party wrote in an op-ed published on Wednesday in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

The advantage of the new proposal, the parties argue, is that it avoids the need to make changes to Sweden's constitution.

The proposal would still allow political parties to accept anonymous donations, but doing so would mean the parties would be ineligible for political party support provided by the state.

Every year, the state and the Riksdag provide Sweden's political parties with about 450 million kronor ($69 million) in support. The funds go to parties both in and outside the Riksdag, although election results govern the amount of money a given party receives. State funding is the largest income source for Sweden's political parties.

The government's most recent bill on party financing didn't include a ban on anonymous donations. Instead, the government wants to examine the issue further.

With a counterproposal that avoids any constitutional complications, the opposition parties hope their bill could be passed by April 1st, the same time the government's bill is set to come into force.

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"A more thorough review of the constitutional implications will be needed at some point so we have to do this instead," Green Party MP Peter Eriksson, chair of the Riksdag's Committee on the Constitution, told the TT news agency.

"Otherwise it will take too much time. As the government has been dragging its feet for so long, it's too late to have a new inquiry now.

In addition to criticism from the European Union, Sweden has also been chastised by the Council of Europe's Group of States Against Corruption (Greco) for the increased risk lax rules about gifts to elected officials. 

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