Centre Party to pay back all Nova donations
Party to borrow money to pay back EUR 260,000
The Centre Party is preparing to pay back all donations that it has received that were in some way linked with the activities of the Nova Group real estate development company. The total sum is about EUR 260,000.
Party Secretary Jarmo Korhonen plans to write off the donations with a “temporary loan”, which is to be repaid from the EUR 9,180,000 that the party is getting in state subsidies for the party and its press next year.
In Finland, political parties are paid state subsidies according to the number of seats they hold in Parliament.
Korhonen told Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday that next week the Centre Party plans to examine the demands that Nova Kiinteistökehitys has on the Centre Party. He emphasised that the party “is preparing to pay back everything”.
Korhonen is somewhat surprised that the demands are coming to the Centre Party, even though the money was paid to the Menestyvä Suomi association, which served as the fundraising organisation of the Centre Party in the last Parliamentary elections. The association has since been shut down.
Korhonen notes that the only thing that Menestyvä Suomi really did was to sell tickets to a seminar at which speakers included the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister.
The buyers of tickets to the seminar agreed with the association’s goal - that the Social Democratic Party should not hold the posts of both the Prime Minister and President.
Korhonen also points out that the parties of the left received “massive and overflowing” financial support from the labour unions.
“Over four years, support for the left, with its parties, district organisations, and candidates was four million euros.”
Korhonen dismisses reports that the Centre Party is in dire financial straits.
He says that while the party is currently operating with the help of a temporary loan, next year it expects to have a surplus again.
Korhonen does not want to harp on about ethics and morality in the midst of the election finance brouhaha. He said that he followed orders to hold out a begging-bowl for the party, and emphasises that he could not know when some company or another goes bankrupt, and election money suddenly becomes tainted.
“I did not bring these practices [fundraising] into politics. They have existed for 30 years already, but during my time these practices seem to have changed permanently.”
What practices? According to Korhonen, the basic task of a party secretary is shifting from raising money to involvement in party activities.
One possibility that he sees is that all party activities will be financed from public subsidies. “Or then, that all donations will be solicited exclusively from individual people above the age of 15 in small amounts. That would suit us.”
He emphasises that money donated to parties largely goes into the pockets of the media in the form of election advertisements. If the furore over election campaign financing ever subsides, Korhonen wants to talk specifically about the media.
As Korhonen sees it, when nobody can afford campaign advertising any more, the newspapers will choose the candidates who get elected.
Previously in HS International Edition:
National Coalition Party and candidates to return donations from Nova Group (17.9.2009)
Centre Party silent about major contributor (12.6.2009)