Sierra Leone

7

Key Takeaways: Cost of Politics

7

Key Takeaways: Cost of Politics

Population: 7.88 million
Head of Government: President Julius Maada Bio
Ruling party/coalition: Sierra Leone People’s Party
Last election: March 2018
Next election: 2023
Registered voters: 3.18 million (2018)
Annual salary of member of legislature: Le254 million (US$24,935)

1
Critical to the chances of winning office for many parliamentary candidates is support received from friends in the diaspora.
2
MPs interviewed stated that the most expensive stage of the process in seeking power is financing the election to earn the party’s symbol.
3
On average an MP can transfer between Le1.6-2.4 million ($400-600) per week to his or her constituents.
$400-600
per week
4
New entrants who do not seek to run on the ticket of either leading party face considerable financial obstacles.
5
Interviews with MPs from Freetown and Kono – so called ‘swing seats’ - suggest there are higher costs involved in campaigning and electioneering for these seats
6
The candidature fee, payable to NEC, increased tenfold between 2012 and 2018.
2012-2018
7
The cost of politics in Sierra Leone is growing less and less affordable. MPs are under pressure to meet demands of electorates and to do so they apply unsustainable, and sometimes illegal, ways of meeting this financial burden

Population: 7.88 million
Head of Government: President Julius Maada Bio
Ruling party/coalition: Sierra Leone People’s Party
Last election: March 2018
Next election: 2023
Registered voters: 3.18 million (2018)
Annual salary of member of legislature: Le254 million (US$24,935)

Key Findings

Click on the headings below to find out more information

Context

  • Sierra Leone has been making steady progress in consolidating democracy since emerging from a decade long civil-war that spanned the 1990s. Four violence-free elections have been held since 1996 with a peaceful transfer of power starting in 2007. At present, 16 political parties are registered with the country’s electoral body, an increase from nine in 2016.
  • The SLPP and APC have formed a de-facto two party system since independence in 1961. The SLPP relies heavily on its southern, Mende support base in the same way that the APC retains a stronghold in northern, Themne parts of the country.

Drivers of Cost of Politics

  • All MPs interviewed said that their constituents seek more direct individualised (mostly short term) benefits from MPs rather than policies that improve the common welfare of the constituency and the country.
  • The culture of direct individualised support to constituents owes its origin to the practices of the parliamentary system of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s where MPs were given constituency development funds in the form of hundreds of bags of rice, cash, cooking materials, and other resources that were set aside for constituency distribution.
  • Sierra Leone’s simple majority system is a lot more expensive for individual candidates. Since the voters directly vote for individual candidates, there is the temptation for candidates to meet the personal demands and expectations of voters, leading to buying votes of constituents.
  • Most funds spent by Sierra Leone’s MPs are spent on direct voter contact through rallies, meetings, and political events, where MPs and their parties engage with voters.

Conclusions and Recommendations

  • The law is silent on funding for parliamentary candidates, but it mentions funding for political parties. If such funding is made available, it will give opposition parties some financial muscle to compete more effectively.
  • There is a need for a nationwide campaign to educate people on the roles of government, local councils and MPs. CSOs can play a key role in providing education and enlightenment to citizens on the roles and responsibilities of members of parliament.

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