Politicians: who funds them? ERG calls for ‘no hidden faces’ in political funding

Equality Rights Group has issued a statement at the launch of its most recent campaign emphasizing the slogan ‘’Because it isn’t the politicians who guarantee democracy’.

‘Civil Society has been an area and an issue of focus for ERG for a good number of years. It’s for this reason that we first instituted Independent Civil Society awards and an annual event. For ERG, Gibraltar’s Civil Society – both individuals and organisations of whatever ilk – are vital to the future development of our young democracy,’ a spokesman added. ‘Politicians and political Parties hog too much of the attention too much of the time, and to the detriment of ordinary people in Civil Society, who are increasingly expressing themselves through social media. This trend should make us all think.’

‘In this vein, our latest campaign highlights two vital democratic issues that lie before us, which cannot be avoided any longer. One is the question of how the political Parties keep avoiding going public over who donates and finances their Party organisations, campaigns, and indeed, their individual politicians. Donors and donations have influenced our politics in the shadows for far too long. Political donations are licit, but they have to be conducted in the full light of public scrutiny. It is time citizens in this community were fully apprised of this activity. In other countries, there are clear rules about lobbying, about donations, and about the kind of influence non-elected individuals can exercise in the back-channels of political life.

‘The public deserves and needs to know how this business is conducted in clear, explicit and named terms. There must be no more hidden faces. And we very much look forward to being surprised by the soon-to-come Manifestoes which could, one hopes, present all the Parties’ plans in this direction.

‘Linked to the above is the push that has been given with a great deal of haste by the major political parties in Gibraltar on the issue of populating Parliament with an increased number of MPs. ERG fully supports a reform of Parliament along lines which will indeed increase its transparency and allow for wider representation.

‘Increasing the numbers of MPs, though, is by no means going to achieve that on its own. Without introducing measures such as Proportional Representation, we will simply end up with just more of exactly the same. But at greater financial cost to the taxpayer. This is not acceptable.

‘Even less acceptable is that these proposed changes were originally planned to take place on the mere nod of the vested interested Political Parties themselves, thus excluding the direct and engaged involvement of Civil Society. This in no way tallies with the much-touted bona fide intent to ‘increase democracy’ and, as Gibraltar’s Human and Civil Rights organisation, we call on citizens and Civil Society generally to demand an open, considered, debated reform to a new Parliamentary system so as to benefit not only the Parties, but the whole of our Society long-term. And we say that precisely because it isn’t the politicians who guarantee democracy.