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No transparency Cabinet snubs party funding law

The Council of Europe last year judged Swiss efforts to improve party-funding transparency insufficient

(Martin Ruetschi)

The government has come out against a law on the funding of political parties despite recommendations by an anti-corruption body of the Council of Europe. 

The justice ministry said the cabinet rejected proposals to draft a law, citing the specific nature of the Swiss political system, notably direct democracy and federalism. 

“A uniform rule for the funding of political parties at a national level would hardly be compatible with federalist traditions,” a statement said. 

Frequent ballot box votes and the semi-professional status of politicians in Switzerland made rules on the financial support of political parties unnecessary, the statement added. 

The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) in 2013 found Switzerland’s efforts to improve transparency insufficient. 

No compliance 

A cabinet spokesman said Switzerland did not risk being blacklisted, while the justice ministry added that the government would have to report to GRECO next March on possible compliance plans. 

Last week, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said possible steps could include an obligation for political parties to open their account books. 

The centre-left Social Democratic Party is the only political group publically supporting more transparency on party funding, according to the cabinet spokesman. 

Switzerland and Sweden are the last two Council of Europe member countries lacking national legislation on party funding. 

However, three out of 26 Swiss cantons have introduced a law at a local level. 

Two years ago, a multi-party committee failed to collect sufficient signatures for a vote on more party funding transparency. and agencies

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