One of Ukraine’s topical issues is state funding of parties. Ideally, the funds from the state treasury were supposed to reduce the oligarchic influence, give the parties space for development, and make them independent. But the reality turned out to be completely different.
Hopes for the autonomy of Ukrainian political parties did not become true, but we must pay for it. And there is no longer a way back because Ukrainian legislation was purposefully rewritten in due time for such an innovation. State funding of parties as part of the anti-corruption package and the goal was to de-shadow financing of the politics. The scheme is as follows: the parties receive funding from the budget, they quarterly report on their funds and assets, and the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) tests them.
Similar practices exist in a number of European countries, including the former Soviet republics. There, a similar algorithm works. But in the United States does not give a penny for party building, because popular parties exist for membership dues and voluntary donations - in other words, they are fully supported by the voters. This is another principle for organizing a process that works just as well. In Ukraine, as often happens, the first and second approaches were mixed, resulting in an obscure and ineffective hybrid.
Since 2016, the parties have been receiving state financing, however, changes for the better have not been noticed. Meanwhile, from 2020, the financing program will become even wider. Today, Ukrainian taxpayers maintain only the parliamentary parties, and in a year the money would be allocated to those parties that won less than 2% of the elections.
Thus, if this year the party spent 22 million USD, in 2020 the costs will increase to 24 million. The final figure will depend on the turnout in early parliamentary elections. The lower the turnout, the lower the amount of funding.
And what will the party give to the people in return? Would they demonstrate the new quality of parliamentarism? Eventually, no. And this utopia is primarily due to the fact that in three years NACP did not punish any party caught in the law violation. Impunity, as is known, only reinforces subsequent deviations from the rules of the game.
The legislation provides for a number of sanctions for violations related to the financing of parties and election campaigns. Suspension and termination of public funding are among the most serious ones.
And this is another characteristic reality for Ukraine. Allocated funds settle on some unknown accounts, and the state bodies, called upon to control their movement, do nothing or show inexplicable loyalty. Depriving state funding for serious violations would be a very serious lever of influence on the party. Otherwise, the state assumes the function of either a philanthropist, or a voluntary donor, or rather, a cash cow.
Of course, we cannot reconstruct public consciousness for one day or elaborate the conditional “social contract” so that the oligarchy disappear tomorrow. Moreover, the oligarchs have a powerful trump card. They own TV channels; any party is doomed to failure without its own broadcaster in their pockets.
So, the oligarchs will still lure the parties and their leaders with access to the public microphone (as well as with generous financial injections). The oligarch must have his lobby in parliament, and to create it, he will not skimp on the payment of election campaigns. Political parties simultaneously take money from both the state and large business.
Perhaps the decision on state financing is the most optimal and the only right step for today. All the same, in the long run, it has the opportunity to earn and give a chance for the development of parties and their equidistance from large separate financial-industrial groups.