Dutch Party to Lose Government Funding

The European Court yesterday turned down a complaint by Eurosceptic politicians which argued that the European institutions do not have the right to bar political parties from state funds, paid by the taxpayers, when these parties do not “accept the values of the EU, as set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.” As Daniel Hannan noted here yesterday “democracy means being allowed to vote for whomever you please. Once we start disqualifying parties on grounds of their opinions, we are on a very dangerous road.”

Unfortunately, that is the road we are on. A second proof of this occurred yesterday when a court in the Netherlands ruled that the Dutch state should stop funding the Reformed Political Party (SGP).  All political parties in the Netherlands receive state funding in accordance with the number of votes they receive. The judges in The Hague, however, ruled that the state is violating the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women by funding the SGP because this party does not put forward women candidates for election. The court said the Dutch state does not fulfil its obligations to the UN Convention because it funds the SGP. The small Calvinist party with only two members in the Dutch Parliament and one in the European Parliament, will lose about one million euros per year because it believes that positions of leadership in politics and society should be occupied by men.

The Dutch minister of the Interior, Johan Remkes considers appealing to the verdict. Remkes wants to know the opinion of the High Court on the matter. The minister is a member of the freemarket Liberal Party VVD. The internationally best-known VVD politician, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, however, was happy with the verdict. She said that any political party discriminating against women or homosexuals should be deprived of funding.

Hirsi Ali, a secularist who grew up in a society of fundamentalist Muslims, regards all religions as equally dangerous. A freedom loving Dutch blogger said he was disappointed by her remarks. He added:

“It is ridiculous that this party is punished for not conforming to the rule of the majority. Any women not in agreement with the party’s policy are free to start their own party or join another political party. […] Whether you like it or not, EVERYONE discriminates on a daily basis. We finally should get rid of the idea that discrimination is bad by definition. […] If this line continues, then what is next? Forbidding a Christian political party because it discriminates against homosexuals, even though the party’s policy may be based on religious grounds?

“Another thing that bothers me is that nowadays countries are run by lawyers forging treaties that can have far reaching consequences. Furthermore, I cannot help but wonder if there still is such a thing as national independence. Apparently if the Euro-monster does not decide things for you, the UN-Godzilla will.”

Calling the Tune

In neighbouring Belgium a study was published this week showing that 77.5% of the funding of political parties comes from state subsidies. Ten years ago Belgium introduced a law which restricts the private financing of political parties. The law has made it illegal for politicians and parties to accept donations from companies or donations of over 125 euros from private individuals. Since then political parties represented in Parliament receive state subsidies in accordance with the number of votes they get. The parties receive the money through non-profit organisations which they are required to establish to this end.

This situation enables the state to control political parties. He who pays the piper calls the tune. “It is intolerable that the Belgian State should subsidise its enemies,” Prof. Marc Uyttendaele, the legal advisor of the governing Socialist Party said. Government parties have consistently threathened to deprive the Vlaams Blok (VB) of its funds. The VB is an “enemy of the Belgian State” because it aims for the independence of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern half of Belgium. In 1999, a government agency under the competence of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt took the VB non-profit organisation which cashed the state subsidies for the party to court. The non-profit organisation was declared a criminal organisation by the Belgian courts in 2004, forcing the Vlaams Blok to disband. The VB politicians subsequently established a new party, the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest).

In the Netherlands and Germany political parties receive only about 30% of their finances from the government. In countries like France and Spain the figure is about as high as in Belgium. In 2001 the Council of Europe fomulated some recommendations regarding government financing of political parties.  According to the CoE there should be a balance between private and government funding and parties should be encouraged to look for private funding “since excessive reliance on state funding can lead to the weakening of links between parties and their electorate.”


Is there a rationale why a

Is there a rationale why a party must include a certain number of women, but not a certain number of coloured people, muslims, atheists, lesbians or elderly people?


According to the CoE there should be a balance between private and government funding and parties should be encouraged to look for private funding “since excessive reliance on state funding can lead to the weakening of links between parties and their electorate.”

Call me an old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon, but I reckon the right balance of government funding is NIL. So long as parties declare their source of income, and so long as donations from foreigners are restricted, I can see absolutely no reason why parties should receive any subsidy whatsoever. Most of the money is just wasted anyway on stupid posters and negative TV campaigns. There are plenty of ways for politicians to get their points across without spending our taxes in doing it.

Bob Doney