Top German court nixes subsidy raise for political parties

Germany Party Funding
The Second Senate at the Federal Constitutional Court with Christine Langenfeld, from left, Peter Mueller, Doris Koenig, Sibylle Kessal-Wulf and Astrid Wallrabenstein announces a ruling on state party funding in Karlsruhe, Germany, Monday, Jan. 24, 2023. Germany’s top court has ruled that a decision five years ago to raise the upper limit for state financing of political parties by 25 million euros ($27.2 million) a year was illegal. (Uli Deck/dpa via AP)
Germany Party Funding
Outside view of the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) in Karlsruhe, Germany, Monday, Jan. 24, 2023. Germany’s top court has ruled that a decision five years ago to raise the upper limit for state financing of political parties by 25 million euros ($27.2 million) a year was illegal. (Uli Deck/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s top court has ruled that a decision five years ago to raise the upper limit for state financing of political parties by 25 million euros ($27.2 million) a year was illegal.

The country's Constitutional Court said Tuesday that a 2018 law change backed by the left-right governing coalition under former Chancellor Angela Merkel to increase the annual limit for all parties to 190 million euros ($206.7 million) could make them too dependent on the state.

State funding in Germany matches the amount of money political parties receive from members or donations, up to a fixed limit.

Judges concluded that the arguments for raising that limit put forward by lawmakers at the time — such as the need to digitize their communication — weren't sufficient to justify the increase. They had also failed to take into account savings resulting from switching to electronic communication.

Three smaller parties — the Greens, Free Democrats and Left party — had challenged the law. The Greens and Free Democrats are now in a coalition with the Social Democrats, who had backed the law. Merkel's Union bloc has been in opposition since 2021.

It wasn't immediately clear what impact the verdict will have for state funding already provided to parties.

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