Dutch gov't to limit foreign donations to political parties

In order to prevent undesirable influence on Dutch democracy, the government wants to limit foreign donations to Dutch political parties, Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations wrote in a letter to the Tweede Kamer on Thursday.

"At present the same rules apply to donations from abroad as donations from the Netherlands", Ollongren wrote, according to NU.nl. "This means that political parties can receive unlimited donations from abroad." The government wants to implement stricter rules on this practice. "The coalition agreement of this government stipulates that money flows from non-free countries to, among others, political parties, with which our freedoms are abused, must be limited as much as possible."

Earlier on Thursday the Evaluation and Advisory Committee on the Financing of Political Parties Act advised the Minister to completely ban foreign donations. According to the committee, even the appearance of foreign influence must be prevented. 

It seems that the government is not ready to go that far yet, as Ollongren wrote only about limiting foreign money flows. She is working out exactly how to do that.

The committee also advised increasing the subsidy political parties receive per member from 7 euros to 12 euros. This should be financed by reducing the subsidy political parties get per parliamentary seat. The committee also wants to make donations to political parties more transparent. Currently parties have to publish donations of 4,500 euros or more, the committee advises changing this to 2,500 euros or more. Ollongren will only later make a decision on these recommendations.

Stricter rules on foreign donations will especially affect the PVV. Geert Wilders' party received substantial amounts from, among others, conservative Jewish-America institutions, according to RTL Nieuws. Between January 2015 and February 2017, the anti-Islam party received over 130 thousand euros from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a foundation owned by renowned anti-Islam publicist David Horowitz. The PVV also received 6,800 euros from American company FOL INC.

The PVV is more dependent on donations than other parties, because the party has only one member - Geert Wilders himself. As a result, the PVV only receives a subsidy per parliamentary seat. Other parties also receive a subsidy per member. 

Ollongren told RTL Nieuws that stricter rules on foreign donations aren't meant to target the PVV. "It is mainly about preventing foreign interference."