Cost of politics event: Monday 18 July

Westminster Foundation for Democracy will present the findings from our policy-focused research on the cost of parliamentary politics on Monday 18 July 2016.

Most donor support in the fight against corruption has been focused on strengthening the institutions that fight the symptoms of corruption: anti-corruption commissions, special investigative agencies, the auditor general and financial intelligence centres; institutions that attempt to detect and prevent corruption. Yet, the root causes of much corruption lies elsewhere. It lies in the growing cost of politics.

Launching six case-studies that explore the associated costs of getting into politics in Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia and Ukraine, the conference will convene academics, parliamentary strengthening implementers and parliamentarians to explore the concerning picture of the problem and its causes.

Whether in established or new democracies, unregulated use of money, private or public, for politics, is capable of reversing the ethics, practices and spirit of democracy. It confers undue advantages and improperly alters available choice to electorates.”

Adebowale Olorunmola, Independent Consultant and Author: Nigeria Cost of Politics paper

If you would like to participate, then please register your interest.

A full agenda is available here.

The synthesis report is available here.

Full agenda is available

Why the ‘Cost of Politics’?  

As political campaigns have grown more and more competitive, evidence is emerging that state resources are being diverted to fund incumbent candidates and that potential new candidates are being excluded from the electoral process. Selection processes within the main political parties are increasingly dominated by a small sub-set of elites, ensuring that strategic party nominations and leadership contests tend to be excessively monopolized by the parties’ patrons.

The few recent empirical studies that exist indicate that MPs in multiparty systems often spend large shares of their campaign funds on personalized networks. The implications for voting behaviour are distinct from those of voting based on performance and programmatic evaluation. Votes are exchanged based on the ability of the incumbent MP or opposition candidate to ‘buy’ votes and ‘take care of his people’, providing gifts, paying for fees, finding jobs, and showing concern on a personalized basis.  Similarly, the exploitation of patronage politics has encouraged local companies to draw closer to the government by making donations to the ruling party while shunning the opposition parties.

In order to encourage competitive multiparty system, which guarantees freedom and fairness of all parties to participate in the electoral process, they need to be resourced. There are concerns that the electoral model emerging in many contexts is unsustainable. WFD aims to build its knowledge in this area to inform further debate on this important issues.

Featured image: AntonIn