4th Dec 2023

German court rules on party funding

A landmark ruling by the German constitutional court has ruled that small parties should be subject to same funding rules as large parties, as a similar case comes before the European Court of Justice.

The German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe today (26 October) ruled against a new party-funding scheme adopted by the German Parliament in 2002, which will not now enter into force as planned on 1 January 2005.

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  • The European Court of Justice is not forced to follow the German constitutional court (Photo: Bundesverfassungsgericht)

Judges said the new scheme would not offer equal opportunities to small and big parties and thus was in breach of the German Constitution.

The rules had been introduced to present a bar on radical parties from getting public funding.

German Public Law professor Hans Herbert von Arnim, who brought the case to Karlsruhe for the ecologist ÖDP party, today told the EUobserver that the Court's ruling has strengthened the position of small parties ahead of the European Court of Justice's ruling.

"The European Court of Justice is not forced to follow the German ruling, but today's ruling will play a role as the EU Judges must take into consideration the legislation of the member states", Professor von Arnim said.

In Germany, one percent of the vote in one state qualifies parties for funding while European Union political parties must have 3 percent of the votes in seven states to get funded.

"Some 150 members of the European Parliament are not entitled to funding under the EU scheme", he said.

Funding European parties

Meanwhile, the EU today issued a statement outlining the first 4.6 million euro allocation to EU parties.

Eight European political parties have met the criteria and will get paid from the EU coffers in 2004:

European People's Party and European Democrats 1.587.587€

Party of European Socialists 1.257.000€

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe 618.896€

Party of European Democrats 340.425€

European Federation of Green Parties 306.000€

European United Left / Nordic Green Left 210.275€

European Free Alliance 165.724€

Union for Europe of the Nations - European Alliance 161.250€

TOTAL 4.647.157€

Source: European Parliament

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