Research carried out by

Senegal

7

Key Takeaways: Cost of Politics

7

Key Takeaways: Cost of Politics

Population: 16.3 million
Head of Government: President Macky Sall
Ruling party/coalition: Benno Bokk Yaakaar coalition
Last election: 2017
Next election: 2022
Registered voters: 6.68 million (2019)
Annual salary of member of legislature: CFA 15.6 million (US$28,597)
Year of study: 2019

1
Candidates face the issue of having to pay large deposit fees for their candidacy – some CFA 20 million (US$36,700).
US$ 36,700
2
Money is a resource of prime importance for all candidates in legislative elections in Senegal. There are more and more cases of electoral candidates who are facing judicial inquiries because of loans they had taken out to run their campaign and are unable to pay back.
3
70% of those surveyed thought that secrecy defines the role of money in politics and believe that there is a link between corruption and politicians crossing the floor.
70%
4
MPs interviewed highlighted the increasing use of new communications technology, which plays a major role in influencing voters. Those standing for election link up with expensive communications agencies or specialists who help them ‘look after’ their image.
5
An election campaign is considered by certain social groups as a time of wealth redistribution, a unique occasion to make money or to receive gifts in general. 
6
Once elected, the parliamentarians interviewed say that they are given numerous requests not only from those they identify as their voting base but also from other groups. Senegalese society places importance on all sorts of ceremonies - baptisms, marriages, deaths, patronage of cultural, religious and sports events. These are events in which the attendance of politicians, in particular those in power, is highly desired.
7
Any opposition party that seeks to compete with the ruling party needs to have substantial means available to them; this helps to explain the ever-increasing cost of politics.

Population: 16.3 million
Head of Government: President Macky Sall
Ruling party/coalition: Benno Bokk Yaakaar coalition
Last election: 2017
Next election: 2022
Registered voters: 6.68 million (2019)
Annual salary of member of legislature: CFA 15.6 million (US$28,597)
Year of study: 2019

Key Findings

Click on the headings below to find out more information

Context

  • Except for the period from 1963 to 1976, when the country experienced a single-party system, elections have always been hotly contested since independence.
  • Once elected, MPs obtain access to funds which can be used for future elections, by exploiting the influence that comes with their titles. This client-based system has allowed the party in power to win the vote in each legislative election with a large majority in the National Assembly.

Drivers of Cost of Politics

  • To get elected to parliament, candidates are expected to undertake certain activities which require the availability of vast financial resources. These activities include, among other things, frequent travelling with the campaign team in order to stay in touch with voters; regular visits to religious and traditional authorities which cannot be done without giving gifts; running costs for political rallies and making contributions to various family ceremonies of constituency voters.
  • Senegal is a country where religious or traditional leaders still enjoy a certain level of influence and legitimacy which places them at the heart of electoral ‘bartering’. Without their support or blessing, it becomes very difficult for candidates to get elected, especially in religious regions.
  • The tendency of local communities to make their vote a transaction exacerbates the cost of politics.

Conclusions and Recommendations

  • The Law on Political Parties in Senegal requires political parties to submit their accounts to the Ministry of the Interior at the end of each year. This measure has never been enforced simply because there is an informal consensus among political parties not to address this issue. If this measure were to be enforced, it would have a strong impact because it would provide accurate data on party expenditures. It would also identify sources of financing and eventually place a ceiling on party expenditures.
  • There is a need to communicate more on the role of MPs to put an end to the misconception that politicians are ‘social charities’.

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