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Political parties get more indebted, have fewer sponsors

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Prague, Oct 4 (CTK) – Czech political parties get less money from sponsors and owe more money than before, and they gained 705 million crowns in 2015, which is the lowest sum since 2009, according to the EconLab think tank, which is part of the Institute of Economic Studies of Charles University.

Sixty-eight percent of the sum are state contributions that were received by 23 parties last year. The highest sum was received by the Social Democrats (CSSD) of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, 133 million crowns.

All 32 parties and movements, whose funding is monitored by the website and which are running in the weekend regional elections, received money from sponsors.

The vast majority of the sponsors supported the six major parties in parliament: the CSSD, the ANO movement of Finance Minister Andrej Babis, the junior ruling Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), the senior opposition Communists (KSCM) and the right-wing opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) and TOP 09.

The ODS obtained the highest sum from sponsors, or more than 25 million crowns, which is about one third of the money from all the sponsors.

The ODS has had the most generous sponsors since 2008.

But, in general, sponsors give less money to political parties than before. The sum parties received from firms in 2015 has been the lowest since 2000.

However, EconLab writes that this is mainly because no elections were held in the Czech Republic last year.

EconLab says many of the sponsors are dubious – either companies that may be in a conflict of interests or sponsors that are hard to identify.

Except for the CSSD that has only a very small number of such sponsors, such dubious cases represent 35 to 80 percent of the sponsors of the major parties.

Parties take loans more often than before and their debts increased mainly around 2006, 2010 and 2013 when general elections were held.

During the last two election periods, the debts of the political parties increased by nearly 260 percent, especially because of the debts of the ODS and the CSSD, EconLab writes.

Moreover, this sum does not include the money the CSSD ought to pay to lawyer Zdenek Altner, or 337 million crowns, which would more than double the party’s debt if it definitively lost its court dispute with Altner.

The seriously indebted parties, or those whose debt reached more than half of their income, are the CSSD, the ODS, ANO, the Greens and three regional groups. In case of election failure, these parties may have a problem with paying their debt, EconLab says.

A debt is not only an economic risk but also a political risk because it may force parties to maintain coalitions at any cost, reject early elections or try to gain finances in questionable ways, EconLab writes.

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