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Draining law

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Title: Draining law  
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Draining law

The draining law or Belgian dry up law (droogleggingswet) refers to a controversial law passed by the Belgian Federal Parliament in 2005 to cut funding by the federal state to "undemocratic" parties. Due to restrictions against campaign donations from private groups or individuals, Belgian political parties rely mostly on the state for funding.

Although the term "draining law" usually refers to the law passed in 2005, there are actually two so-called "draining laws":

  • the law of 12 February 1999, inserting an article 15 in the law of 4 July 1989 regarding the limitation and control of the electoral expenses for the elections of the federal Chambers, the financing and the open accounts of the political parties, and of an article 16bis in the laws on the Council of State, coordinated on 12 January 1973[1][2][3][4]
  • the law of 17 February 2005, modifying the coordinated laws on the Council of State of 12 January 1973 and the law of 4 July 1989 regarding the limitation and control of the electoral expenses for the elections of the federal Chambers, the financing and the open accounts of the political parties[5][6]

The law of 12 February 1999 inserted an article 15ter in the law regarding party financing which states that if a political party by its own effort or by the effort of their components, lists, candidates or elected officials, clearly and with several similar signs, show that they are hostile towards the rights and liberties guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights, can be stripped of its funding by the Council of State. This is why in French, the law is also referred to as the "law to cut funding to anti-liberty parties" ("loi permettant de priver les partis liberticides de leur financement").[7] However, this provision could not be implemented until the passage of the law of 17 February 2005.

At the moment the law would in particular be used against the far-right Flemish party Vlaams Belang. A Belgian court ruled in 2004 that the party's predecessor Vlaams Blok had encouraged discrimination against foreigners.[8] According to the party's supporters, both the 2004 conviction and the current bill are political actions by their opponents.

Legislative history

The bill inserting an article 15ter in the law of 4 July 1989 was introduced in the Chamber of Representatives by Claude Eerdekens and Charles Janssens of the Parti Socialiste on 23 June 1997. It passed the Chamber of Representatives on 10 December 1998 with 109 votes in favour, 13 against and 21 abstentions.[9] It passed the Senate on 4 February 1999 with 46 votes in favour, 5 against and 9 abstentions.[10] King Albert II of Belgium signed and promulgated the bill on 12 February 1999. It was published in the Belgian Official Journal on 18 March 1999.

The draining bill was introduced in the Chamber of Representatives by Claude Eerdekens of the Parti Socialiste and Muriel Gerkens of Ecolo on 24 September 2003. It passed the Chamber of Representatives on 12 February 2004 with 98 votes in favour, 20 against and 1 abstention.[11] It passed the Senate on 20 January 2005 with 40 votes in favour, 17 against and 1 abstention. King Albert II of Belgium signed and promulgated the bill on 17 February 2005.[12] It was published in the Belgian Official Journal on 13 October 2005.

References

  1. ^ "Law of February 12, 1999" (in Dutch). The  
  2. ^ "Law of February 12, 1999" (in French). The  
  3. ^ "Law of February 12, 1999 - Erratum" (in Dutch). The  
  4. ^ "Law of February 12, 1999 - Erratum" (in French). The  
  5. ^ "Law of February 17, 2005" (in Dutch). The  
  6. ^ "Law of February 17, 2005" (in French). The  
  7. ^ "Minutes of the Plenary Session of March 24, 2005" (PDF) (in Dutch and French). The  
  8. ^ "Court rules Vlaams Blok is racist".  
  9. ^ "Minutes of the Plenary Session of December 10, 1998" (PDF) (in Dutch and French). The  
  10. ^ "Minutes of the Plenary Sessions of February 4, 1999" (PDF) (in Dutch and French). The  
  11. ^ "Minutes of the Plenary Session of February 12, 2004" (PDF) (in Dutch and French). The  
  12. ^ "Minutes of the Plenary Session of January 20, 2005" (PDF) (in Dutch and French). The  
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