On the eve of the first round of legislative elections, parties not only count their votes, they count their money. More precisely the public financing they will receive during the legislature that begins. The issue – not very public – has emerged recently in discussions between leftist parties to form the New People’s Ecological and Social Union (Nupes), or between parts of the presidential majority. 20 minutes trying to explain to you how and why the State fills party wallets with the help of Jean-Philippe Vachia, the president of the commission that controls all that.
How does this work?
Each year, the State allocates 66 million euros for the public of political parties. This is the result of legislative elections used to decide how to distribute this windfall, in two stages.
First fraction: each political party that gets at least 1% of the votes in at least 50 constituencies will receive each year until the next legislative election of 1.42 euros per vote obtained.
Second part: each elected representative is entitled to 37,280 euros per year to the party to which he is attached. For this second phase, each parliamentarian can choose to change the affiliation each year if it pleases him. “But it must be for a party that is eligible for public funding!”, Refers to the president of the National Commission for campaign accounts and political financing, Jean-Philippe Vachia. There is no question so once elected to create his own party to receive – unseen or known I confuse you – the 37,280 euros annually.
To remain eligible, the parties must present their accounts each year to the CNCCFP, which will decide on their good performance. “By 2020, 34 parties have received public funding,” Jean-Philippe Vachia said. There seem to be many, but so many overseas parties here, where the rules are quite different. Another exception: since 2002, financing has also been indexed in respect of equality policies for their candidates in legislative elections. “The further you move away from equality, the less your endowment decreases. That in a way that is taxed and given to parties that respect the principles of equality, ”the CNCCFP president explained.
For example, in 2020, LREM received 22.2 million euros, LR 12.9 million and PS 6 million.
Why does it exist?
The Urba affair, the Île-de-France public procurement affair, the Elf affair, the Carrefour du développement affair, the Carignon affair, the Botton affair … The oldest and oldest of you will surely remember the end of the 1980s and the early 1990s were marked by countless political and financial activities. In the absence of very clear guidelines, almost all parties are trying to find the parade to fund electoral campaigns whose cost is exploding. “At that time, there was a need for the moralization of political life”, recalls Jean-Philippe Vachia. A 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 finally be public,” the commission chairman explained. In addition to direct public funding, donations from legal persons (especially companies) to political parties are prohibited. For individuals, they are limited to 7,500 euros per year. As for others therefore, 66% can be deducted from income tax, which represents a form of indirect public financing. Disputed cases of political funding have not yet completely disappeared, but the strict rules established have further limited the abuses.
What are the strategies for the parties?
These rules partially restrict discussions for alliances prior to the legislative election. On the left, for example, it is unthinkable for each of the parties involved (insubordinate France, Europe-Ecologie-The Greens, Socialist Party, French Communist Party) to have less than 50 constituencies each on which to stand. This is also the case: The EELV will have candidates in 100 constituencies, the PS 70 and the PCF 50. Also, insubordinate France has agreed that there is no single funding association. Clear: each party retains control over the money earned in the constituencies in which it competes and in the deputies it elects.
This is completely different to most. The three parties supporting Emmanuel Macron (La République en Marche, which will be the Renaissance, the Democratic Movement and Horizon) will go to the polls under the banner “Together! and under a single funding association. It is up to each year to distribute the windfall to different stakeholders. This is something that will silence every part of the majority: if one of them has any desire for freedom in 2027, it must be done without the money collected under the first part during the legislative elections of 2022. A real rock in the garden of Edouard Philippe who wanted to make spoils of war with Horizon. This choice seems to have weakened for some outgoing right-wing deputies who have succumbed to the caudine forks of the macronie: where joining Horizon, Edouard Philippe’s party, is perhaps less complicated, joining the municipal organization of the majority postponed more than one.
The operation set out thirty years ago had a devastating effect. In particular, it has caused inflation in the number of candidates, on the part of small parties that have no hope of having elected members but are trying to get this popular 1% in at least fifty constituencies. In 2017 there was an average of 12 candidates per constituency against between five or six maximum in 1988. The system also favors those in that area: it’s really hard to get into the game when you don’t have money.
Some think he is changing the system, like economist Julia Cagé. Sa The Democracy Prize (Fayard), published in 2018, it proposes to remove the indexation of party funding on the results of legislative elections. Instead, each citizen will have the power to allocate 7 euros of public money to the political party of their choice. It can change every year, at the time of his tax return.