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Ban on Legal Entities Funding Political Parties?

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, October 27
Legal entities might be prevented from financing political parties – this is the issue Georgian NGOs and opposition parties have been concentrating on since October 22. The authorities commented on the issue on October 26 with an obscure statement that hinted that anything is possible.

Certain NGOs which attended a meeting of the Analytical Department of the Ministry of Justice on October 22, were the first ones to make concrete conclusions from a quite general statement from the Ministry. The Ministry said that it "is going to take International Organizations’ recommendations into consideration regarding the financing of political parties and also several changes will be initiated against the agreement made by political parties in July of 2011.” The response of the NGOs was swift and harsh. As the representatives of the NGO, Transparency International-Georgia, Nina Khatiskatsi, said, the meeting was held hastily, which brought more questions, at the same time Khatiskatsi says that the rejection of the financing of political parties by legal entities was hidden in the agenda. The NGOs connected the possible changes with the Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s entry into the political arena: “there were no talks regarding such restrictions earlier, NGOs, neither Georgian or international have never given such recommendations which creates doubts that the changes are connected to Ivanishvili," Khatiskatsi stated and mentioned that there are cases in different states where legal entities both may have or may not have the right to finance political parties but that this "should be an issue of debate and the decision should be made with the agreement between parties.”

Majority representatives did not deny that the issue is being discussed. The chair of the Parliament’s Foreign Relation’s Committee, Akaki Minashvili responded to the NGOs saying that some issues really need to be rechecked however no concrete decisions have been made regarding funding by legal entities. As for the relationship between this issue and Bidzina Ivanishvili, Minashvili responded that it was the recommendation of the Council of Europe's anti-corruption body GRECO, ”and I do not think the Council of Europe directs its efforts at Ivanishvili .”

The Christian- Democrats think that if such decision is made it would be worse for the ruling party as 90% of the National Movement’s donation is from legal entities, they claim, from the beginning the government’s regarding the issue liberally and they even increased the upper level of financing of the political parties, however, currently they are changing everything to the contrary.

According to the Chair of the Organization Law for People, Zakaria Kutsnashvili, physical and legal entities have equal rights through the constitution, “thus introducing such changes is against the constitution“ as a legal entity is an organization managed by physical entities. "The authorities think that Ivanishvili’s campaign is based on financial muscle and they are trying to prevent him from using his financial levers, however it is not the right approach, the most important thing is that Georgian society has already seen a successful Georgian dream in this man,” Kutsnashvili said.