Political parties give themselves a pay-rise

Belgium's political parties intend to pocket an extra 8 million euros coughed up by the taxpayer as a result to changes of the law on the public funding of political parties.

Political parties represented in Parliament are subsidised and the number of votes they poll determines the amount. At present this amount is calculated by totting up the number of votes parties get for the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate. After the new state reforms no separate popular elections will be held for the Senate as senators will be designated by other assemblies. Political parties were in danger of losing out, but the parties pressing through the reforms have decided to increase the amount awarded for every vote a party gets for the Chamber of Representatives.

The daily De Standaard now reports that parties that get members elected to both the Chamber and the Senate will get even more: 8 million in all.

The extra cash should compensate for the 11 million euros that should be saved on the budget for staff and working costs of Senate floor groups.

Opposition parties N-VA and Vlaams Belang have attacked the extra funding. Opponents of the changes say that legislation is bringing in the extra 8 million without any evidence that 11 million will be saved.