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Chamber wants spending limits for Czech election campaigns

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Prague, June 29 (CTK) – The Chamber of Deputies passed amendments to the election laws introducing spending limits for Czech election campaigns as of next year and imposing a financial limit on donations for political parties on Monday.

However, the limits are yet to be confirmed by the other house of parliament, the Senate, and signed into law by the president.

If the laws take effect, a political party will not be allowed to spend more than 90 million crowns on the campaign before the general election due in 2017.

The highest donation a political party will be allowed to receive from a firm or an individual will be three million crowns annually.

According to the amendments, Czech parties will be obliged to have transparent election bank accounts and their funding will be supervised by a new body, the Office for supervision of the financing of political parties and movements.

The opposition Communist (KSCM) and Civic Democrats (ODS) criticised the planned establishment of this office, which would also check the financial reports annually submitted by parties.

As for regional elections, the amendments set the spending limits for a party at seven million crowns per region.

A candidate for senator should not invest in the campaign more than 2.5 million crowns. The 50-million-crown limit for a presidential candidate remains unchanged.

The discussion on the spending limits was influenced by the fact that the ANO movement of billionaire Andrej Babis, now finance minister, entered parliament after the 2013 elections. Opponents to the limits claim that parties will always find ways to circumvent the rules.

The amendments also cancel the provision that lowered the financial contributions, which parties receive from the state based on their election success, due to the financial crisis.

The lower house added to the government’s proposal the introduction of rules for individuals, firms or groups that would support a political campaign. Such supporters must officially register and their spending cannot exceed 1.8 million crowns in case of the general election. If they violated the rules, they would be punished.

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