Flaws Seen in Czech Financial Transparency Bill

The Czech government approved a measure that would, if passed by parliament, require political parties to publicly disclose financial statements on the Internet. The bill is meant to fight corruption ahead of elections in 2014, AFP reported, but serious shortcomings may limit its success. 

Prime Minister Petr Necas said he expected the bill to bring about “transparent financing and control over such financing,” according to AFP. The financing bill is part of a broader crackdown on corruption that includes legislation that ends the lifetime immunity enjoyed by judges and lawmakers. That legislation is to take effect in May, AFP reported. 

The Czech Republic ranked 54th on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 2012, lower than neighbors Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Necas’s center-right government desperately needs to tackle perceptions of corruption.  The Prime Minister’s coalition lost its majority in the 2012 Senate elections: the inability of the government to curb corruption, coupled with unpopular austerity measures, was blamed for the loss, Radio Prague reported.

Necas has said his party has to do “everything we can so that this failure is not repeated,” according to Reuters. Convincing the public the government is serious about tackling corruption would be a good first step.

The Council of Europe voiced unease at the lack of an independent campaign finance monitoring body, and “serious concerns about the pace of [campaign finance] reform,” the Wall Street Journal blog “Emerging Europe” reported on Thursday. Necas’s own party is opposed to the idea. A spokesman for the party told “Emerging Europe” that another layer of bureaucracy was unnecessary.