Bratislava, Slovakia – On Thursday, the Slovak Parliament rushed through a draft bill to tighten current campaign financing rules, prompting outcry among opposition parties that claim the new law seeks to stifle them.
Slovakia passes new law on campaign financing
The new scheme aims to limit parties’ revenues from loans and donations to 3.5 million euros on a four-year period, and also puts a cap on donations from party members at 10,000 euros each.
The bill was adopted in two days and rushed through by the ruling Smer party, with the support of coalition partners Most-Hid and SNS, as well as two minor opposition movements.
Whereas there were no limits until now, the new rules imply that political parties will mostly rely, for their finances, on state budget contributions which they receive following general elections.
Members of the ruling coalition claim the new law is meant to increase transparency of election campaigning.
An attempt to stifle new opposition parties ahead of next year’s elections?
But for most analysts, the new rules clearly favor older parties that are represented in Parliament, to the detriment of newly-established parties, most notably the Progressive Slovakia – Spolu liberal alliance, that won the European elections one month ago, and former president Andrej Kiska’s new ‘For The People’ party.
“They fear us therefore they are changing the rules of the political competition at the very last minute”, the former head of state declared, pointing out the law clearly favors current parliamentary parties.
Although she criticized the speed at which the law was passed, it remains unclear whether President Zuzana Caputova will sign the bill or attempt to veto it.
Ruling Smer party remains on top despite drop in popular support
Support for Robert Fico’s ruling Smer party has fallen to an all-time low in recent months, following shock defeats in this year’s presidential and European elections.
But according to a recent Focus agency poll released this week, it remains the most popular party in Slovakia (more than 20% support), followed by the liberal alliance between Progressive Slovakia and Together (15.7%) and Marian Kotleba’s far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia (12.6%). Andrej Kiska’s new party trails behind, slightly above 5%.