MPs Splashed $23m On Campaign – Report

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The findings show that the cost of running for political office in Ghana went up by nearly 60% over one single electoral cycle (2012-2016). Ghana has 275 legislators which means they cumulatively spent approximately $23,650,000 to enter the law making chamber.
The Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) research stated: “Between 2012 and 2016 the cost of running for political office in Ghana increased 59%. On average candidates needed to raise approximately GHS 390,000 (approx. USD 86,000) to secure the party primary nomination and compete in the parliamentary election in their constituency.
“If the cost of politics rises to unaffordable levels the danger is that politics becomes the domain of the elite and wealthy, and that the motivation and incentives of MPs move from serving the public to recovering their own investment.”
The research which was done in collaboration with the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) surveyed over 250 candidates and sitting MPs about their experiences in the 2012 and 2016 elections.
“These findings were complemented by individual interviews and focus groups. Four key areas of election expenditure – campaigns, payment of party workers, media and advertisement and donations – were analysed in detail at both the party primary level and during parliamentary election campaigns.
“They paint a picture of an environment where male candidates outspend female ones; where the greatest costs incurred are by candidates standing in municipal areas; where party primaries, particularly those of Ghana’s two main political parties (the NDC and NPP) can be very expensive affairs; and where an ability to spend the most money is, by and large, a critical factor in successful winning a seat in elected office.
“In Ghana, a sitting MP earns GHS 233,000 annually (approx. USD 51,000). Therefore a successful election campaign on average costs them the equivalent of the best part of two years’ wages. This illustrates how much of a barrier to entry the cost of politics can have on ordinary Ghanaians who are keen to seek political office but lack substantial sponsorship,” a summary on the report stated.
It noted that aspiring-MPs with considerable resources spent between 10,000-15,000 Ghana cedis on “delegates encounters”. MPs’ expenditure on campaign outreach in parliamentary elections was higher than for constituency primaries. This is because, unlike the latter which involves arranging periodic meetings with delegates and party executives, the former requires individual contacts as well as the organization of big town and village rallies. Hence, most MPs spent between 10,000 and 12,000 Ghana cedis on voter outreach programmes for intra-party primaries and 2,000 to 3,000 Ghana cedis on a single local rally out of the more than 20 held in each parliamentary campaign.
Source: Ghana/Starrfmonline.com

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