Campaign budgets

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

In Luxembourg, political parties live mainly off public money. The transparent way in which they seem to operate must strike a balance between defending pluralism and representing voters. Here are some explanations.

What do Luxembourg's political parties do for a living? Far from the big American-style rallies, the Luxembourg election campaign is a more practical matter, with politicians who are well known to the general public and newcomers hoping to prove themselves. While all the information is easily accessible online, it is highly likely that citizens will not take the trouble to go and look at the accounts of all the local political parties. The Court of Auditors, an independent public body, is responsible for ensuring that the parties stay within the financial limits. With a budget of hundreds of thousands of euros and sometimes dozens of staff and elected representatives, the parties are like big SMEs.

What people don't always realise is that political parties in Luxembourg receive public funding of up to 80 per cent of the total revenue of a political party's central structure. Parties receive a basic grant of 165,000 euros if they meet a parity quota of at least 40 per cent women on their lists. Funding is then degressive if this rule is not respected, and parties can lose up to 90 per cent of their funding if only one sex is represented on their list. On the other hand, it is not the law, but Luxembourg tradition, to have two heads of lists. This is why, depending on the party, it is a male-female or male-male duo (not yet two women…) that currently appears on campaign posters. The parties must also stand in all the country's constituencies in the parliamentary elections, and obtain at least two per cent of the vote in the both national and European elections.

In addition to the "basic" funding, which is a lump sum, the parties are rewarded for good results in the elections: "For each percentage point gained over a minimum of two per cent of the vote at national level, this is equivalent to a bonus of 17,600 euros, a bonus that also benefits from the index, like salaries. The same applies to the European elections. This encourages political pluralism, which is the stated objective. For the smaller parties, however, the amounts are actually smaller", explains Kim Nommesch, coordinator at the Zentrum für politesch Bildung.

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