Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir sent a letter to the leaders of all parties on Wednesday, proposing that the laws on fundraising for political parties that took effect on January 1, 2007, limiting donations from companies and individuals to ISK 300,000 (USD 2,300, EUR 1,700), be reviewed.
Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.
The PM also proposes that the National Audit Office review the funding of political parties, member organizations and candidates in primaries for the period 2002-2006, before the current laws took effect, Morgunbladid reports.
The chairpersons of all parties that have representatives in parliament have declared their intent to have the National Audit Office look into their fundraising.
DV revealed on Wednesday that Steinunn Valdís Óskarsdóttir, MP for the Social Democrats, and Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, MP for the Independence Party, had each received ISK 2 million (USD 15,000, EUR 12,000) in donations from Baugur Group and the same amount from FL Group in their primaries in 2006, as confirmed in Baugur’s accounts.
Björn Ingi Hrafnsson of the Progressive Party also received an ISK 2 million donation from Baugur Group in 2006. According to DV, at least 18 candidates received financial support from Baugur in 2006, but these three individuals received the highest amounts.
Thórdarson said during a public meeting broadcast on RÚV on Wednesday evening that the donations from Baugur and FL Group had not been considered high at that time, adding that he had received donations from 40 different entities in the 2006 primary.
“I have followed all the regulations that apply to primaries,” Thórdarson stated, adding that he had never provided any company with special treatment and would never do so.
After the story broke that FL Group had supported the Independence Party with an unusually high donation in 2006, MP for the Left-Greens Svandís Svavarsdóttir indicated that the donation might have influenced the development of the matters surrounding Reykjavík Energy Invest (REI).
“In my mind it is a threat to democracy and democratic order when those who are well off financially and have certain interests to protect can have unnatural influence by literally buying support of political parties with donations,” Sigurdur Kristinsson, associate professor at the University of Akureyri, told Morgunbladid.
According to Fréttabladid, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, Valtýr Sigurdsson, is currently investigating donations that political parties received after the new laws took effect, but not the donations that were received before that time and have been discussed in the media in recent weeks.
Sigurdsson stated nothing has indicated that donations that were accepted before the laws were established can be categorized as bribes.
“But if someone has evidence [indicating that bribery was involved] then he or she should alert the police,” Sigurdsson said, adding that for now it appears that the older donations “were just part of the parties’ fundraising that crossed the line at a certain point.”
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