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Hidden donations Switzerland reprimanded for opaque political financing

A person puts their voting paper in the ballot box

Swiss voters do not know the source of funds for political campaigns.


The Council of Europe has repeated calls for Switzerland to be more transparent about how political parties and elections are financed. Its anti-corruption group failed the alpine state in the latest of its regular reviews of European countries.

Council of Europe Group of States against Corruptionexternal link (Greco) criticised Switzerland’s “lack of progress” on the issue. At present, Swiss political parties are not obliged to declare the source of their funding, whether it be from individuals, corporations or other interest groups.

“Greco expresses regret that the federal government is maintaining its position of not legislating on the transparency of party and election campaign funding,” it said in a statementexternal link released on Friday.

Non-governmental organisation Transparency International has criticised the Swiss system as fostering corruption and abuse of party funds. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has also pushed for more transparency.

The Swiss government has until March 2019 to reply to the findings. Greco also called on Switzerland to host a high-level delegation of its members to discuss the issue. But Greco did find comfort in mounting grassroots pressure for more transparency in Switzerland.

In October last year, an initiative was handed in to force a nationwide vote on whether to force parties to declare the source of large donation sums of money. The government has recommended a rejection of the initiative, but voters will decide for themselves in 2020 or 2021.

Earlier this year, cantons Schwyz and Fribourg voted on measures to increase political party funding transparency. Such local rules already exist in cantons Ticino, Geneva and Neuchâtel.

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