Parteiengesetz

“Political parties law,” which defines some German election rules.

An Armistice Day article in Spiegel.de on the continuance of the neonazi-legacy N.P.D. party’s temporary loss of government political party financing due to “chaotic bookkeeping” mentioned some interesting aspects of German public financing of political parties and the parties’ reporting obligations. Under the Parteiengesetz, the German government gives all parties that receive at least 0.5% of the vote in Bundestag or European Union elections, and/or 1% in state elections, 85 eurocents for each vote received in E.U., Bundestag and German state parliamentary elections. That is reduced to 70 eurocents per vote >4 million votes. “Also, for each euro a party receives as a membership fee or donation, up to 3300 euros, the government pays another 38 eurocents.”

This money is paid to the parties in quarterly installments.

Spiegel.de said the N.P.D.’s financial trials began in 2007 when a Thuringian N.P.D. official named Golkowski was caught using fake donation receipts in order to get more matching funds from the government. This may have been going on since the 1990’s. The error was compounded by the so-called “chaotic bookkeeping” in that year’s year-end reporting that should have been glass-clear in order to avoid more trouble but in which party treasurer Köster apparently misplaced almost 900,000 euros by using the wrong tables at one point. As per the Parteiengesetz, the N.P.D. had to return the inappropriately obtained donation-matching funds (almost 900,000 euros) and pay a fine double that amount. Accordingly, the Bundestag announced the N.P.D. would be fined 2.5 million euros for the malfeasance, but in December 2012 the supreme constitution court in Karlsruhe, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, reduced the fine to 1.27 million euros because, they said, the Bundestag had overlooked the fact that the radical right-wing party had provided “coherent/conclusive explanations” [“schlüssig erläutert“] of some of the points they were accused of. In May 2013, in response to the N.P.D.’s accelerated appeal to the supreme constitutional court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht said the government would have to pay the N.P.D.’s 15 May 2013 and 15 Aug 2013 quarterly payments “in advance” until a final court decision in the main hearing on the fine’s legality; this financed the party until at least the 22 Sep 2013 Bundestag election.

On 11 Nov 2013, the Bundesverfassungsgericht announced that the neonazi party’s fine would not be cancelled more yet and their 15 Nov 2013 payment can now be stopped. Although the N.P.D. had filed an accelerated appeal to the nation’s highest court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht said the party had not exhausted its relevant appeals in Berlin. The N.P.D. said they need this money now more than ever, with the E.U. Parliament election coming up.

Spiegel.de’s chart shows government contributions to the N.P.D. from 2003 to 2011. Red bar numbers represent government contributions in millions of euros. Beige bar numbers are government funding’s percentage of total N.P.D. income that year.

(Pot EYE en gezz ETZ.)

Untersuchungsausschuss

“Investigating committee.” There appear to be two parliamentary committees investigating the organizational failures in Germany’s federal, state and local law-enforcement, and domestic, foreign and military-intelligence, pursuits of a right-wing terrorist cell of bank-robbing serial killers that rampaged through Germany for more than a decade. The Thuringian state parliamentary committee investigating the affair is based in Erfurt. The federal investigating committee, consisting of Bundestag members, is based in Berlin.

Apparently Germany has a federal Attorney General in Karlsruhe [Bundesanwaltschaft] who is also looking into this. Some of the key organizational failures appear more willing to open their files to the federal Attorney General than to the responsible Untersuchungsausschuss committees.

Update on 16 Feb 2013: The federal investigating committee traveled to Ankara, Turkey, on 15 Feb 2013 to inform the Turkish government about the progress of the investigation. Eight of the ten people allegedly murdured by the neonazi cell had Turkish backgrounds.

(OON ter ZOO koongs ow! ss shooss.)

Ägide

Aegis.

The Erfurt committee investigating the cell of neonazi serial murderers who only got caught posthumously (after they decided to commit suicide while setting their apartment on fire) has invited Helmut Roewer back to answer difficult questions about how Thuringian Verfassungsschutz paid ultimately-unhelpful neonazi informants 1.5 million euros in cash under Roewer’s aegis. 1.5 million is a lot to be unaccounted for or misspent in German government. Roewer was in charge of the state Thuringian Verfassungsschutz office from 1994 to 2000.

Roewer also appears to have personally made unusually high information payments to a “Günther” who was known only to Roewer and does not appear in the agency’s other files. Tax authorities have been asked to look into whether all V-people payments were properly reported on individuals’ income tax returns, as income to social welfare offices, and by Thuringian Verfassungsschutz as outgo.

If I understand this correctly, in 2006 Germany’s federal government ruled that informants receiving money from Verfassungsschutz and the Bundesnachrichtendienst owe 10% tax on those monies. Normal tax rates would range between 15% and ~42%.

(Ague EE deh.)

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