Monday, March 03, 2008
Portugal to ban small political parties? March 3, 2008 by Antony Hook Colin Ross interestingly reports that Portugal is to “ban small political parties” defined as those with less than 5,000 registered supporters. I agree with Colin that on the face of it this would be a disgraceful development. It risks a closed shop in which the limited number of established parties stich up the democratic process. Portugal is likely to face severe problems with various articles of the European Convention on Human Rights- the right to free association, free expression, and the right created in the Protocols to the Convention to free elections. We need to know, however, what “ban small political parties” actually means. If it means that electoral candidates are barred without being members of a party with at least 5,000 supporters that would be outrageous. If it means that such candidates such candidates are designated on the ballot as independents (i.e. their party identity is not officially recognised) that would also be unfair. If it means that they are not entitled to state funding you could argue, subject to all the facts being known, that is defensible to stop every chancer under the sun setting up and claiming money.