"Public funding must return to the parties"- Corriere.it

"Public funding must return to the parties"- Corriere.it

Of Francesco Verderami

The proposal of the former minister, today leader in the Senate, reopens the debate: "It is necessary to guarantee to the political forces the exercise of their democratic functions"

He knows that his words will have a "disruptive effect" but does not intend to censor himself for "fear of insults", because his thought is the result of a "long-meditated reflection". According to Patuanelli "it is necessary to reintroduce public funding to parties". Thus the president of the five-star senators breaks the last taboo of the Movement. But above all he reopens the debate on a political issue of the first magnitude which in reality has never closed and which only out of cowardice has been confined for years to reserved discussions among the inhabitants of the Palace, unable to face a problem of democracy. And the fact that an authoritative exponent of the M5S - respected by colleagues from the other parties - is breaking the silence will perhaps help Parliament come out and find a transparent mechanism in a bipartisan way that can be explained and understood by the public. Because, says Stefano Patuanelli, "the citizens must know which knot to untie lies behind the financing: the political forces must be guaranteed the exercise of their democratic functions".

It is true that in the past "the amount of public resources was such as to protect even those who were not entitled to them". And it is equally true that taxpayers' money was managed "often improperly and sometimes illegally", also allowing for "cases of personal enrichment": "On this point - according to the version of the grillino group leader - the Movement played a fundamental role, because it helped to undermine the system linked to the costs of politics". But on the wave of indignation and riding the (right) popular protest, the baby was also thrown out along with the bathwater. The «costs of politics» were confused with the «costs of democracy». And it wasn't just a populist operation. Because the forces of the First and Second Republics - to gather consensus - used the argument instrumentally with a series of referendums. All then circumvented, with technical tricks, with clandestine amendments inserted in the most disparate bills, with unquestionable decisions taken by the offices of the Chambers of Deputies. It also happened in the last legislature, in Montecitorio, when the grillino was Roberto Fico at the helm: the parliamentarians were cut "to reduce the costs of politics", however the funds for the groups were not cut, which today therefore receive more money for each deputy. This is how up to now attempts have been made to buffer the problem of the "costs of democracy". «All those elected – recalls the grillino group leader in this regard – share in the expenses of the forces to which they belong with the deductions from their salaries as parliamentarians. Even the seats have a cost: I know that the Democratic Party asks fifty thousand euros from whoever wins it ».

It's a frantic race to find money, because political initiatives cost money and are indispensable for communicating with public opinion, having contact with voters, informing them about programmes. In short, it is the life of the parties. "And we want to guarantee the life of the parties, which are a democratic garrison?". Otherwise, there is only room for census politics, for privately owned parties, founded and managed exclusively by those with money to invest. The return to public funding is the remedy that Patuanelli proposes to address the problem without "crafty actions however lawful", but "through rules that avoid the distortions of the past". Models are different. The M5S manager cites that of the "European Parliament, which finances the groups and controls the use of funds through officials of the structure unrelated to the parties". However, each solution leads to the same conclusion. It is a reflection "in a personal capacity" behind which a widespread consensus can be glimpsed. And it is no coincidence that Patuanelli has come to persuade himself that there is no other way. Because when asked the reason for the conversion, he replies: "The experience".

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July 22, 2023 (change July 22, 2023 | 07:41)

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