Survey Shows Low Transparency of Political Party Financing

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Survey Shows Low Transparency of Political Party Financing

An alarmingly low level of transparency regarding party financing during the latest local elections was reported by Transparency International Bulgaria on Wednesday.

The transparency index is set at 1.77 at maximum possible level of 10. This is the lowest index since 2005, when the association carried out the first such survey. The current survey was conducted in October-November 2007 and covers the cities of Varna, Rousse, Haskovo, Vidin, Doupnitsa and Bourgas, BTA reported.

Of 326 registered candidates for mayors and municipal councillors in the six cities, 131 have presented reports on the financing of their campaigns.

The failure to submit reports is a demonstrative denial to observe the law, said political analyst Anatolii Gulabov. According to him, there are grounds to talk about spreading of the political corruption. It is quite obvious that a large part of the parties play the role of "letter box" formations, i.e. they are used for the re-distribution of funds during elections.

Of the 88 parties at national level, registered by the Central Electoral Commission for the Local Elections, 70 have submitted reports to the National Audit Office, said Transparency's Katya Hristova.

Asked whether the would-be mayors and councillors are dependent on the sponsors of their campaigns, 54.8 per cent of the respondents in a poll, conducted by the association, gave a positive answer. 34.1 per cent think that the funding of the campaign was not sufficiently transparent. The interviewed identified the following serious problems during the campaign: vote buying (47.4 per cent), low turnout (32.2 per cent) and the so-called "voting tourism," which involved buses transporting Turkish nationals with dual citizenship to Bulgaria to cast their ballots (10.4 per cent).

Transparency International Bulgaria stressed the need of introducing uniform standards for reporting the party's financing and of imposing fines on parties, which fail to submit reports.

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