International Project Coordinator for global ‘cost of politics’ research

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International Project Coordinator for global ‘cost of politics’ research

February 05th, 2020

Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) is seeking to engage an international consultant to act as a project coordinator for its global ‘cost of politics’ research.

The Opportunity

Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) is the UK’s leading democracy support organisation. To make a bigger contribution to policy-focused research, WFD is focusing on a core set of issues that are important for the effectiveness of democracy assistance and relevant to our programming, of which the cost of politics is one.

The “cost of politics” is the amount an individual spends to be chosen as a party’s candidate for an election, compete in that election and, for those whose are successfully elected, during his or her term in public office. Our research approach aims at improving data about the amount of money in politics and an attempt to better understand who benefits from these resources, why and how.

Over the last four years, WFD has conducted primary research in partnership with a variety of local and international actors in seven countries and has plans to expand this portfolio further in 2020. Moreover, WFD is interested in developing an online portal to make the data collected available to practitioners and academics worldwide to enable more and better analysis of the issues of money in politics.

To aid these efforts, WFD is recruiting an individual to act as the international project coordinator for its ‘cost of politics’ research for the next 9-10 months. This post will be responsible for coordinating the implementation of WFD’s existing research efforts in this area, developing new avenues of research with WFD’s Director of Research and Evaluation, and managing the design and launch of a dedicated website for disseminating ‘cost of politics’ research to a global audience.

Eligible candidates for this call are interested individuals (consultants, or individuals from think-tanks, CSOs, faculties, institutes, etc) with relevant experience in political finance research and research project management/delivery.

Project Timelines: Start date 24 February 2020. The initial phase of the policy research project will be concluded by September 2020.

For more information about the programme and key deliverables please refer to the Terms of Reference.

Submission of proposals

Candidates are required to send CV which lists relevant experience and a cover letter (both in English) which outlines your suitability for the position, specific knowledge/experience in political finance, and fee rate via email to Rosie Frost at rosie.frost@wfd.org by 17 February 2020.

Terms of Reference

Background

The Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) is the UK’s leading democracy building foundation. One of WFD’s three strategic objectives for the period 2015-2020 is to contribute to public knowledge about effective democracy strengthening, including democracy assistance for parliaments and political parties, in developing and transition countries. To make a bigger contribution to policy-focused research, WFD is focusing on a core set of issues that are important for the effectiveness of democracy assistance and relevant to our programming, of which the cost of politics is one.

As the 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.  To hold nationwide elections and sustain political campaigns, both key elements of any democracy, requires resources. Money may not guarantee electoral success, but it is rare that it comes to those with limited funds. How that money is raised and spent, as well as who receives it and how, are important but under-researched questions. The “cost of politics” – the amount an individual politician spends to be chosen as the party’s candidate for an election, compete in that election and, for those whose are successfully elected, during his or her term in public office – is a research approach aimed at improving data about the amount of money in politics and an attempt to better understand who benefits from these resources, why and how.

The “cost of politics” approach focuses on the spending of individuals contesting for political office rather than those of political parties. It is broad in its scope, aiming to cover expenditure incurred across the election cycle: following the money spent, from the candidate’s decision to stand for political office at the party primary phase, to the end of an individual’s elected tenure, a period of several years. Costs range from the distribution of cash and in-kind donations of goods, such as rice and fuel on the campaign trail, to the direct provision of health clinics, classrooms and roads that should normally be provided by the state. Promising political access and influence to prospective campaign funders are also an important and significant cost of politics. The “cost of politics” approach looks at the amount spent in comparison with national economic parameters, such as salaries of elected officials and average citizen incomes, to assess affordability.

The approach attempts to better understand which factors drive individual choices when it comes to spending funds on politics. In doing so it can help explain why there is a divergence between stated rules and regulations and their implementation or lack thereof and provide a clearer indication of the obstacles to regulating and curbing or better monitoring spending on political campaigns. A key component of this is understanding the demands placed on, internal calculations of, and accountability pressures facing, prospective and existing parliamentarians. These demands and pressures can be influenced by both formal institutions and regulations as well as informal institutions, cultures and norms and are a crucial part of the “cost of politics” more holistic approach to the question of how increasing resources impact on and shape, political and democratic processes.

Over the last four years, WFD has conducted primary research in partnership with a variety of local and international actors in seven countries and has plans to expand this portfolio further in 2020. In addition, WFD is interested in developing an online portal to make the data collected available to practitioners and academics worldwide to enable more and better analysis of the issues of money in politics. To aid these efforts, WFD is recruiting an individual consultant to act as the international project coordinator for its ‘cost of politics’ research for the next 9-10 months. This post will be responsible for coordinating the implementation of WFD’s existing research efforts in this area, developing new avenues of research with WFD’s Director of Research and Evaluation, and managing the design and launch of a dedicated website for disseminating ‘cost of politics’ research to a global audience.

Expected Deliverables (number of days are indicative)

  • Coordination of delivery of existing research projects in five countries, including liaising with WFD country offices (where applicable), international partners (where applicable), and local research organisations, to ensure research design and products are of high quality and relevance to WFD’s strategic research objectives. (20 days)
  • Advice and support to Director of Research and Evaluation in identifying and developing partnerships for expanding the ‘cost of politics’ portfolio to at least three new countries in 2020. (5 days)
  • Manage the design, development, and launch of a new website dedicated to sharing ‘cost of politics’ data emerging from WFD’s research portfolio. (15 day)

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