In Karlsruhe, the AfD wants to ensure that the Desiderius Erasmus Foundation, which is close to it, receives state support and participates in the so-called global grants. It’s about a lot of money. Most recently, the six party-affiliated foundations of the CDU, CSU, SPD, Greens, FDP and Left were given a total of around 660 million euros. For the AfD it could be up to 70 million euros. In a European comparison, the amount of the grants should be unrivaled.
Who is suing whom?
The organ dispute proceedings of the AfD are directed against the Bundestag, its budget committee, the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Finance.
How is it argued?
In Karlsruhe, the AfD relies on the right to equal opportunities under Article 21 Paragraph 1 Clause 1 or Article 3 of the Basic Law. The opponents, on the other hand, believe that the AfD’s applications are already inadmissible, i.e. they do not meet the formal requirements. In fact, they are of the opinion that parties have no direct claim to funding from foundations close to them. There are also factual reasons for differentiating between the various foundations. The opponents of the application do not want to leave millions for educational work to a foundation that is close to a party that is listed as an “extremist suspected case”.
How is the practice so far?
So far, neither the granting of public funds nor their withholding have been regulated by law. Since 1967, the budget legislature, i.e. the Bundestag, has been the sole authority to decide on state subsidies to party-affiliated foundations. In 1986, the Federal Constitutional Court approved this practice. With regard to the “points of contact” between the foundations on the one hand and the political parties on the other hand, the judges emphasized the constitutionally protected equal treatment. They stipulate that state funding “appropriately takes into account all permanent, important political trends in the Federal Republic of Germany”.
In the past, it was customary for a foundation to receive funds when the relevant party was elected to the Bundestag for the second time in a row. In the early days, the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, which are close to the Greens, also had to get by without government support. When the AfD entered the Bundestag for the first time in 2017, it was easy to justify that the Desiderius Erasmus Foundation, which is close to it, does not receive any grants. In the meantime, however, the AfD has also been represented in parliament for the second time.
How have the other parties positioned themselves?
For a long time, only the Greens advocated an independent legal basis for foundation funding. In the last legislative period, they received hardly any support for their push for a law that would regulate financing in a binding and transparent manner. In the coalition agreement, the traffic light parties then agreed to “legally better” secure the work and financing of the political foundations. However, there is still no draft law.
So far there is only a budget note, which is part of the budget law. According to this, party-affiliated foundations are only funded if they “offer the guarantee at all times that they are committed to the free democratic basic order within the meaning of the Basic Law and that they work to maintain it”. No global grants may be granted.
The Union faction is unsure whether they consider a law to be necessary. The traffic light groups are also at odds. The reason for the displeasure is provided by the SPD, which pointed out that a law is only one of several possibilities. A simple decision in the budget law or an administrative regulation could also be considered. The suspicion is circulating in the coalition that the Social Democrats fear suffering financial disadvantages from a legal regulation with regard to the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which is close to them.
What prospects does the AfD have?
The AfD has twice tried to get funding from the Desiderius Erasmus Foundation before the constitutional court. The party failed both times, most recently in August. However, that says nothing about the outcome of the main proceedings. It cannot be ruled out that the judges will declare the previous practice to be unconstitutional and demand a legal regulation for the financing of party-affiliated foundations.
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