On the evening of the first round of legislative elections, parties are not only counting their votes, they are counting their money. More precisely, the public funding that they will receive during the period of legislation that begins. This issue – not very public – has recently surfaced implicitly in discussions between left-wing parties to form the Ecological and Social Union of the New People (Nupes), or among the components of the presidential majority. 20 minutes He tries to explain to you how and why the state fills the party bags with the help of Jean-Philippe Vascia, head of the committee that controls it all.
How it works ?
Every year the state allocates 66 million euros to the public of political parties. It is the result of legislative elections that are used to decide how to distribute this sudden wealth in two phases.
First fraction: Each political party that has obtained at least 1% of the vote in at least 50 electoral districts will each year until the next legislative elections receive €1.42 for each vote obtained.
Second fraction: Each elected deputy is entitled to 37,280 euros annually for the party to which he belongs. For this second part, each Member of Parliament can elect to change affiliation every year if he so desires. “But it must be a party that qualifies for public funding!”, Chairman of the National Committee on Campaign Accounts and Political Finance, Jean-Philippe Vascia. So there is no doubt that he was once chosen to set up his own party to get – I don’t know, I don’t confuse you – 37,280 euros a year.
To remain eligible, the parties must submit their accounts each year to the CNCCFP, which determines their good performance. “In 2020, 34 parties received public funding,” says Jean-Philippe Vascia. It sounds like a lot, but there are many outside parties involved in this, for which the rules are slightly different. Another exception: since 2002, financers have also been rated on respecting the parity rules of their candidates in legislative elections. “The further away from parity, the lower your giveaways. Which was done in a way by taxing and donating them to parties that respected parity rules,” explains the CNCCFP president.
For example, in 2020, LREM received 22.2 million euros, 12.9 million Syrian pounds, and 6 million Syrian pounds.
Why does it exist?
Urba case, Ile-de-France public procurement case, Elf case, Carrefour du développement case, Carignon case, Botton case… The 1990s were marked by countless political and financial affairs. In the absence of very clear rules, almost all parties are trying to find a parade to fund campaigns whose cost is exploding. Jean-Philippe Vascia recalls: “At that time, there was a need to moralize political life.” The first law was passed in 1988, it was amended several times and in 1990 the CNCCFP was created.
“To combat questionable funding, political parties are guaranteed to have an ultimate audience,” the committee chair explains. In addition to direct public funding, donations from legal persons (especially corporations) to political parties are prohibited. For individuals, these are limited to €7,500 per year. As for the others, 66% of the income tax can be deducted, which is a kind of indirect public financing. Contested political finance issues have not completely disappeared, but the strict rules put in place have limited abuses to a large extent.
What are the strategies for the parties?
These rules partially restrict discussions about alliances before legislative elections. On the left, for example, it was implausible that each of the participating parties (Rebellious France, Euro-environmental Greens, Socialist Party, French Communist Party) had fewer than 50 electoral districts each. This is also the case: the EELV will have candidates in 100 constituencies, PS 70 and PCF 50. Also, rebellious France agreed not to have a single funding consortium. Clearly: each party retains control of the money earned in the constituencies where it was in competition and over the representatives it will elect.
It’s completely different in the majority. The three parties loyal to Emmanuel Macron (La République en Marche, which would become the Renaissance, the Democratic Movement and the Horizon) will run in the elections under the slogan “Together! And under one funding institution. Then it is up to them every year to distribute the windfall profits among the various stakeholders. It is a matter of keeping calm for each Component of the majority: if one had any desire for independence by 2027, he would have to dispense with the money collected under the first part during the legislative elections of 2022. A real stone in the garden of Edouard Philippe who wanted to make the spoils of war with Horizon. That this choice discouraged some outgoing right-wing MPs from wading under Macron’s tail divisions: joining Horizon, Edward Phillip’s party, may not have been so complicated, as joining the majority municipal organization delayed more than one.
The operation that took place thirty years ago has harmful effects. In particular, it caused an inflation in the number of nominations by small parties without hope of having elected members but trying to get this famous percentage in at least fifty constituencies. In 2017, there were an average of 12 candidates per constituency compared to a maximum of five or six in 1988. The system also favors those already in place: it’s really hard to get into the game when you don’t have the money.
Some believe it is changing the system, such as the economist Julia Cage. at Democracy Award (Fayard), published in 2018, proposes de-indexing party funding on legislative election results. Instead, each citizen will have the power to allocate €7 of public money to the political party of his choice. It can change each year, at the time of its tax return.