Party financing bill passes into law, both parties vote in favour

Simon Busuttil insists party's electoral spending should be capped at €2 million, that laws shouldnt be regulated by Electoral Commission, and that it should address PL's financial advantage gained through seizing of property

A Bill to regulate the financing of political parties has passed into law, with both the PN and the PL voting in favour of it.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil told the House before the vote that the PN would vote in favour, despite the government having rejected its proposals to cap electoral spending at €2 million, to have the laws regulated by an institution that “isn’t politically dominated” rather than the Electoral Commission, and for the laws to address Labour’s “significant financial advantage”.

“Labour’s financial advantage is due to its band clubs that it had seized in the past,” Busuttil argued, adding that the PN could seek legal action to address the financial anomaly.

However, he said that the government had taken a number of the PN’s proposals on board in the final draft. These included clauses stating that political parties must be subjected to international auditing standards, that parties cannot accept donations from companies or authorities or authorities in any way controlled by the government, that they cannot accept donations from foundations or trusts with unknown beneficiaries, that donations exceeding €7,000 must be published online, and that the maximum donation limit per individual is capped at €25,000, rather than the €40,000 proposed by the government.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the government has passed a law that a PN administration hadn’t for 25 years.

He said that the PL disagreed with capping election campaign spending, as parties should be allowed to choose when to spend most of their money, and dismissed Busuttil’s argument against the Electoral Commission.

“We already entrust the Electoral Commission with the most delicate moment of democracy, that of general elections,” Muscat said. “If we trust the Commission with our votes, why can’t we also trust them with regulating party finances?” he questioned.

He also dismissed that PL has a financial advantage, after being in Opposition for 25 years, and said that the previous Nationalist administration should have taken steps against the party had they found anything wrong with their usage of the band clubs.