Research carried out by

Niger

7

Key Takeaways: Cost of Politics

7

Key Takeaways: Cost of Politics

Population: 25 million
President of the Republic: Mohamed Bazoum
Party in power: Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya)
Last election: 2021
Next election: 2026
Election surveyed: 2016
Number of registered voters: 7.4 million
Year of study: 2019

1
Average cost to seek election to the legislature: CFA 25 million (US$46,500)
US$ 46,500
2
Total average cost to get elected to parliament as % of annual MP salary:
139%
3
Annual salary of MP: CFA 18 million (US$33,390)
US$ 33,390
4
Average cost to seek election to local council: CFA 3 million (US$5,580)
US$ 65,580
5
95% of candidates agreed that election expenses increased between 2011 and 2016.
95%
2011-2016
6
There is no threshold for authorised expenses per candidate according to the electoral law.
7
Candidates running in electoral districts where many political parties are competing spend most on their electoral campaign.

Population: 25 million
President of the Republic: Mohamed Bazoum
Party in power: Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya)
Last election: 2021
Next election: 2026
Election surveyed: 2016
Number of registered voters: 7.4 million
Year of study: 2019

Key Findings

Click on the headings below to find out more information

Cost of the campaign

  • Electoral campaigns are increasingly becoming financial pitfalls for political parties and candidates.
  • The electoral campaign seems to be becoming permanent, which has a considerable financial impact on the management of elective mandates. In the run-up to elections elected representatives are expected to distribute money and gifts to retain the electorate. These financial contributions make up 75.1% of all expenses associated with holding parliamentary office.
  • The money spent on election campaigns finances many activities, the most important of which relates to the distribution of money and gifts to activists and influential people. This is followed by transport costs and the preparation and purchase of campaign materials.
  • During their term of office, elected officials also face enormous financial burdens: participation in wedding ceremonies, baptism or death, contributions to political parties and party officials, donation to traditional chiefs, medical, spiritual and educational needs of voters, support to women, youth and disabled persons according to their social needs and the construction of schools, sanitary installations and water boreholes. These ‘solidarity expenses’ of MPs are very significant. MPs say that they are like 'social workers' for their electorate.

Findings

  • The existing legal framework is very ineffective. While the legal framework is very precise on certain points, there are also many omissions including thresholds of authorized expenses per candidate and per political party.
  • The commodification of votes in the form of distributing money and gifts is now a very widespread practice. Although prohibited by law, it is openly practiced.
  • Another manifestation of the weak effectiveness of the legal framework is the failure of parties to comply with the legal obligation of an external audit of their accounts. The report of the Court of Auditors for the period 2015-2016 underlines that in 2016, no political party filed accounts.
  • The responsible oversight bodies are also unequipped and lack neutrality to effectively oversee the implementation of the legal framework persisting to the funding of political parties.
  • The law provides for state subsidies as one of the authorised methods of financing political parties. However, the amount is of symbolic nature and has not been paid since 2014.

Consequences for democracy

  • Election campaigns are reduced to local activities, the most decisive of which is quite simply to move from village to village or from neighbourhood to neighbourhood to distribute money and other gifts in kind to opinion leaders and practically to everyone. The electoral campaign is perceived by a part of the population as "a project where everyone comes to take their part".
  • The generosity of the candidates is also used to poach influential supporters from opposing parties to their cause. This practice has led to the development of a sort of political “nomadism” either at the individual level, when one or more influential persons from an opposing party crosses over, or at an institutional level, when a group of party members decide to join another party in return for the promise of positions or financial gains. This has created very fluid political structures.
  • Most of the eligible population is excluded from the political game because of the limits of their financial means; women and young people are disproportionately affected by this because they are generally less well off.
  • Once in elected office, the representative must seek to recapitalise their assets and make a new financial windfall for the next electoral competition.
  • False competition for power is driven by dramatically unequal resources available to the different candidates in the campaign.
  • To limit political spending, some elected officials limit their travel to the constituency, thus avoiding solicitations from activists. 
  • The result is poor quality elected representatives and poor contribution of the political class to the development of the country.

Recommendations

  • Reform of the legal framework governing the financing of political activities so that it is addressed not only to parties but also to candidates and groups of candidates. In this perspective, campaign funds must be capped. The new mechanism must guarantee the traceability of funds, namely where they come from and how they are spent. Likewise, a monitoring mechanism must be put in place on an inclusive basis involving the state, political groups and civil society organisations.
  • Regular payment of the state subsidy for political parties and the upward revision of its amount. By operationalising these guidelines, political parties are enabled to have legal financial resources, which will help deter them from resorting to funding methods not authorised by law.
  • Sensitisation of the population on the demands of democracy, and communication actions for behavior change.
  • Relaunch of political dialogue between the ruling majority and the opposition, notably through the National Council for Political Dialogue or another mechanism aimed at the same objective. This is an important contribution towards creating a climate of trust conducive to the establishment of a real face-to-face relationship between political actors regardless of their partisan affiliation.

We use cookies to enhance your experience. By continuing to visit this site, you accept our use of cookies.