What is your third source of income

Parties in Germany

Oskar Niedermayer

Prof. Dr. Oskar Niedermayer is a professor emeritus and former head of the Otto Stammer Center at the Free University of Berlin. His main research interests are political parties, elections and right-wing extremism in the Federal Republic of Germany.

The seven parties in the Bundestag raised a total of over 500 million euros in 2018. The SPD had the highest income, the AfD the lowest. Expenditures for all parties in 2018 were below their income. Most of the money was spent by the parties on staff costs.



Parties are financed from membership fees, mandate holder contributions and similar regular contributions, donations from natural and legal persons, government funds and other income, including income from business activities, investments, assets, publications and events.

In total, the seven parties in the Bundestag recorded revenues of almost 511 million euros in 2018. The largest source of income was state funds, which at 185.5 million made up more than a third (36.3 percent) of total income. In second place came the membership fees with 136.4 million euros (26.7 percent), followed by the electoral fees of 69.9 million euros (13.7 percent). The parties received EUR 54.8 million in donations from natural and legal persons (10.7 percent of total income). The other income amounted to 64.3 million euros (12.6 percent). For all seven parties, state funds accounted for the largest share of total revenues.



The party with the highest income was the SPD. According to its 2018 annual report, it had total income of EUR 172.4 million. Its strongest source of income was state funds with EUR 56.8 million, followed by membership fees with EUR 53.8 million. Donations had the lowest impact at 9.4 million euros.

The CDU was able to collect 147.3 million euros. Here, too, state funds accounted for the largest share at 56.1 million euros, followed by membership fees at 37.7 million euros. The lowest income came from other sources of income at EUR 15.6 million.

The income of the other parties in 2018 was well below that of the SPD and CDU. So the Greens in third place with 48.4 million euros. As with all other parties, state funds were the strongest source of income with 19.3 million euros, followed by membership fees with 11.3 million euros. The party was able to achieve the least income with 3 million euros from other sources of income.

The CSU was in fourth place in 2018 with 45.4 million euros. It received state funds of 13.7 million euros and achieved 10.3 million euros each in membership fees and donations. At EUR 3.7 million, mandate holders' contributions were the lowest.

The FDP came to a total of 35.8 million euros in 2018. After government funds of 15.1 million euros, membership fees were the second highest source of income at 9.1 million euros. It generated the least income from mandate holder contributions with EUR 2.7 million.

The Left Party was able to collect 33.1 million euros. The state funds of 14.4 million euros were followed by membership fees of 10.5 million euros. Other income was the lowest at 1.2 million euros.

In 2018, the AfD had the lowest income of the parties represented in the Bundestag, at EUR 28.5 million. State funds came to their books with 10.1 million euros, followed by other income with 8.1 million euros. The mandate holder contributions were lowest at 1.4 million euros.



The expenditures of the parties are divided into expenditures for personnel, for the current business operations, for general political work, for election campaigns and other, whereby this category expenditures for the asset management including the resultant interest, other interest, expenditures in the context of a business activity and other Includes expenses.

In total, the seven parties in the Bundestag had expenditures of 414 million euros in 2018. Most of the money (143.5 million euros) was spent on personnel expenses, which thus made up a good third (34.7 percent) of the total expenditure. In second place went the expenditures for general political work at 108.5 million euros (26.2 percent). Ongoing business operations amounted to 88.8 million euros (21.5 percent) and 54.3 million euros (13.1 percent) were spent on election campaigns. The other expenses amounted to 19 million euros (4.6 percent).



The party with the highest expenditure was the SPD with 141.5 million euros. For her, the personnel expenses hit with 51.4 million euros, followed by the expenses for general political work with 33.4 million euros. The category of other expenses had the lowest share at 10 million euros.

The CDU followed in second place with total expenditures of 119.4 million euros. Here, too, personnel expenses accounted for the largest share at EUR 44.1 million, followed by expenditure on general political work at EUR 34.2 million. The smallest item was other expenses at EUR 2.7 million.

The CSU spent a total of 44.9 million euros in 2018. Since she had to contest the Bavarian state elections in 2018, election campaign expenses were the largest item at 12.8 million euros, closely followed by personnel expenses at 12.6 million euros. The "other" category had the lowest share at 0.9 million euros.

The Greens' expenditures totaled 38.8 million euros. For them, personnel expenses came first at 16.8 million euros, followed by expenditure on general political work at 9 million euros. In the last place were the other expenses with 0.7 million euros.

The FDP had total expenditures of 27.6 million euros. The largest item was ongoing business operations with 8.2 million euros, followed by expenses for general political work with 7.1 million euros. The category of other expenses accounted for EUR 3.4 million.

The Left Party spent almost 25.9 million euros. At 11.1 million euros, personnel expenses came first, followed by expenses for general political work at 7.4 million euros. "Other" accounted for EUR 0.2 million.

In 2018, the AfD had the lowest expenditure of the parties represented in the Bundestag at 16.0 million euros. At 5.1 million euros, it spent most of the money on general political work, followed by expenses for ongoing business operations at 3.8 million euros. The "other" category had the lowest share at 1.1 million euros.



The spending of the parties on election campaigns varies greatly depending on the number and type of elections in each year. As a rule, the parties spend the most money on the nationwide election campaigns for the Bundestag and European elections, which is why, in the period from 2003 to 2018, the election campaign expenditures for almost all parties for the years 2004, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2017 are on highest. In addition to the nationwide elections, there are also state elections and local elections.



The year 2009 is an absolute exception, since in this "super election year" there were a federal election, a European election and six state elections: In 2009 the CDU spent EUR 88.0 million and the SPD EUR 84.9 million on election campaigns. For the other four parties represented in the Bundestag at the time, it was a further 69.7 million euros. The total of 242.6 million euros corresponded to 42 percent of the total expenditure of the parties.

The second-highest expenditure in this period was recorded for 2017 with the Bundestag election and four state elections. The CDU spent 60.9 million euros this year, the SPD 56.2 million euros on election campaigns. With the Greens, it was the highest election campaign expenditure of the entire period with a good 15.8 million euros, the FDP spent 17.5 million euros. In third place was the AfD, which, with almost 13 million euros, spent three fifths of its total expenditure on the election campaigns. The Left Party and the CSU spent 10.5 and 10.1 million euros respectively. Together, the political parties spent EUR 184 million on election campaigns in 2017.

In third and fourth place are the years 2013 and 2014 with the Bundestag and European elections and three state elections each. The total expenditure of the six Bundestag parties for election campaigns in 2013 amounted to 151.4 million euros. In 2014, the five parties that remained in the Bundestag - the FDP had failed at the five percent hurdle - spent a total of 146.2 million euros on election campaigns.

The lowest election campaign expenditures were in 2007, a year with only one state election, with a total of 29.3 million euros

Data Source

Accountability reports of the parties that can be viewed on the website of the German Bundestag: https://www.bundestag.de/parlament/praesidium/partsfinanzierung/rechenschaftsberichte/ accounting reports-202446

Terms, methodological notes or reading aids

DIE LINKE 2007: When calculating the election campaign expenditure, the expenditure of the parties that merged in June 2007 to form DIE LINKE party Die Linke. (before 2005: PDS) and WASG added.