MPs debate tougher rules for foreign party finance

Many Dutch MPs agreed that financing of political parties needs to be tightened up, in a debate on Thursday.

Last year, a parliamentary commission called for a ban on any foreign donations and home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren wants an even narrower limit, to only gifts from within the EU, reports the NRC.

She said that free movement of money within the EU, however, will make it difficult to impose restrictions. The government also wants more transparency on donations, making it compulsory to register all foreign gifts rather than just ones over €4,500.

Currently, money from charities or organisations also only has to be registered according to their name and location but in future, Ollongren wants the name of the chairman to be reported too.

Criticism

In the parliamentary debate, however, MPs disagreed on the best option. Selçuk Öztürk, of Denk, said he was pleased that Geert Wilders’ PVV would no longer be able to receive donations from the anti-Islamist American David Horowitz Freedom Center, which had given more than €100,000 to the party before 2017.

‘[But in the EU] you also have the extreme right, such as Orban and Le Pen,’ said Öztürk. He said he fears that Thierry Baudet’s Forum voor Democracy, the main winner in recent elections for provincial councils and the Dutch senate, might receive money from ‘his boreal friends.’

Baudet had previously been criticised for a victory speech using the word ‘boreal’ which has also been employed by far-right politicians to mean Aryan or ‘white’.

In the parliamentary debate, SGP MP Roelof Bisschop said that they might as well call for an entire ban on foreign donations rather than limit them to Europe. The PVV and Forum voor Democracy did not take part.

Mark Rutte’s VVD party’s financial support mostly comes from six foundations, the NRC added, and it is unclear who is behind them.


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