Elec­toral cam­paign fund­ing

Kuwait Times - - FROM THE ARABIC PRESS - By Dr Bader Al-Dai­hani

In demo­cratic coun­tries, an in­de­pen­dent author­ity su­per­vis­ing the elections sets a max­i­mum limit on the cost of an elec­toral cam­paign per can­di­date, then in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the in­tegrity and cor­rup­tion com­bat­ing author­ity, they au­dit each cam­paign and examine the de­tails of such fund­ing, so that the high cost of elec­toral cam­paign­ing does not de­prive peo­ple with lim­ited in­come and the poor from com­pet­ing with rich and wealthy can­di­dates who can ad­dress vot­ers and af­fect and al­ter their choices.

This author­ity also ques­tions the sources of ex­trav­a­gant spend­ing dur­ing the short pe­riod of the elections. In ad­di­tion, it de­mands fi­nan­cial dis­clo­sure from all the win­ners in or­der to pre­vent them from uti­liz­ing their pub­lic po­si­tions in mak­ing per­sonal gains and il­le­gal for­tunes.

Things are very dif­fer­ent here in Kuwait. There is hardly any con­trol on how funds are spent dur­ing the elections. No­body knows the sources of these funds, which spoils the elec­tion process and does not make it a real re­flec­tion of the peo­ple’s will, be­cause the chances of richer can­di­dates who own for­tunes with uniden­ti­fied of­fi­cial sources are in­com­pa­ra­ble with those of oth­ers. In ad­di­tion, we are al­ways in an awk­ward po­si­tion in view of the un­fair elec­tion law, the po­lit­i­cal chaos, gov­ern­ment in­ter­fer­ence, po­lit­i­cal money and sec­tar­ian po­lar­iza­tion, with the re­sult that the out­come of the process does not re­ally re­flect the peo­ple’s will.

Ques­tion­ing the sources of fund­ing and the pur­pose of spend­ing those for­tunes gains a great deal of im­por­tance if we take into con­sid­er­a­tion that some elec­toral cam­paigns cost over a mil­lion di­nars. In other words, what makes some can­di­dates spend KD 1 mil­lion or even KD 200,000 on a cam­paign? Some of them never give up and keep try­ing again and again, though the salary they will get if they suc­ceed is not more than KD 3,000 a month, a to­tal of KD 144,000 dur­ing a full ten­ure if the par­lia­ment does not get dis­solved ear­lier!

Is this be­cause most can­di­dates know that the new po­si­tion will earn them dou­ble of what they will ever spend, es­pe­cially in the ab­sence of the ‘Where did you get that from’ law? The new po­si­tion will also give some of them the pres­tige they seek in or­der to achieve per­sonal gains and dis­trib­ute eco­nomic ben­e­fits ac­cord­ing to power bal­ances. Pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ences have proved that prof­i­teer­ing from pub­lic funds pre­vails within cer­tain groups and that peo­ple who had noth­ing to do with pol­i­tics or pub­lic work and who had been fi­nan­cially and so­cially mod­est be­fore the elections sud­denly be­come mil­lion­aires once they make it to the par­lia­ment. How come?! — Trans­lated by Kuwait Times

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