2007-05-22

Election funding figures released

This Monday was the deadlines for MPs to file declarations detailing where they got their election funding. The declarations can now be accessed online (fi). In theory it's a beautiful thing, but the rules allow MPs to keep their sources of funding pretty well hidden if they wish. The main loophole is that the donors give the money to some association which forwards it to the MP, and only the name of the association then appears on the declaration. For another thing, if the donation is under 1'700 euros, the donor's name need not be made public.

Something the declarations do tell you is how much money each MP raised in all. In general, candidates spent about 20'000-50'000 euros. Comparing the parties, MPs from the big centre-right parties, the National Coalition Party and the Centre Party, put the most money into their campaigns by a considerable margin. Eero Lehti (Coalition) spent the most, 119'336 euros. Two other MPs spent more than 100'000 euros: Sauli Niinisto (Coalition) and Paula Sihto (Centre). Pirkko Lerner-Ruohonen (True Finns) got through with the smallest budget, 1'835 euros, largely thanks to being on the same list as party leader Timo Soini.

The government is talking about introducing more transparency to the system, although what that may entail isn't clear at this point. The Centre and the Green League are reportedly the most enthusiastic to shine more light on the funding - and good on them. The Coalition Party and the Swedish People's Party are less inclined to make changes.