Friday, 11 August 2000

Party Financing

The Malta Independent

Party Financing

The nationalist party can continue to its heart`s content pretending` to be a model of democratic values,` but before it comes clean on the sources of its financing we are all living a big lie.

Running a political party needs huge operational and capital financing.` The Labour Party is continually out cap in hand. Its collectors unceasingly go round all towns and villages requesting small contributions from every household.` Fund raising activities are held practically every week and yet the party`s finances are a continuous struggle to make ends meet.

When I was chairing a committee to raise funds for the erection of the new HQ I was amazed by people`s generosity in supporting the fund-raising activities of the party. But I also learned one hard lesson.` Unless one goes knocking on people`s door cap in hand only an insignificant minority would take the initiative to make a voluntary offer.

The Nationalist Party keeps its financing very close to its chest.` They do newspaper ads for contributions but as I said first hand experience shows these normally produce scant` results.` Fund raising activities` are very few compared to Labour`s and yet considering that the nationalist party runs with a much lesser dose of voluntary work than Labour, one cannot but ask questions as to how all this gets financed.

And these questions have to be answered` because they challenge the very essence of democracy.

It is a reliably understood that the Prime Minister occasionally holds consultation meetings with leading businessman at Party HQ. These are private meetings and what is discussed is not revealed. But I feel uneasy thinking that the highest political executive of this country could be exposing himself to obligations towards` donors of substantial funding to his party.

Presently there is a jungle out there in the matter of party financing and for all of us who really treasure democratic values this jungle must be sorted out before it is allowed to chew us all up.

We must sort out the parody of having executives and chairmen of public corporations paid more than the Prime Minister. We must understand how a minister can live on an official salary which does not go as far as financing the presents for all the weddings he is invited to,` especially if his life-style is geared to multiple higher private sector salary which was enjoyed prior to taking on ministerial appointment.

We can either continue duping ourselves thinking we live in a real democracy or we can tell our politicians to stop treating us like idiots and come clean with us. For democracy`s sake` let`s stop offending democracy in the name of democracy.

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