Author`s name Michael Simpson

Is a Russian Voter Expensive?

Experts have estimated that agitators inviting people to vote during the parliamentary elections will spend $8.50 per voter
In Europe, spending is cheaper: $3 in France and $5.80 in England.
Experts from the FBK consulting company claim that the forthcoming parliamentary elections will cost Russian parties and single mandate candidates $1.8 billion dollars; at that, the majority of the sum will be illegal spendings. This information was published by the Vedomosti newspaper Wednesday.
The newspaper mentions that 32 parties and election blocks may take part in the parliamentary election scheduled for December 7. Head of the Central Election Commission Alexander Veshnyakov says that it is highly likely that 15-20 parties and blocks will finally have the right to participate in the elections. According to the RF legislation, election resources allowed for spending cannot exceed $8.1 million while legal spending of all parties allowed to the elections cannot be higher than $259.2 million.

FBK analysts suppose that in fact parties will spend $980 million for the election which is almost four times more than the law permits. Experts have estimated that Duma agitators will spend $8.5 per a voter on average.

FBK Department Director Igor Nikolayev says electoral costs in other countries are cheaper. For instance, Canadian candidates spent $2.70 per voter during the 2000 parliamentary elections; French candidates spent $3 per a voter in 2002 and in Great Britain - $5.80 per voter during the 2001 parliamentary elections.

The FBK consulting company published the price list of expenditures that candidates are expected to make during the parliamentary election in its report "The Economic Price of Election". The report says that collection and verification of signatures collected in support of candidates will cost each party $150,000; placards - $4.5 million; billboards - $1.8 million; mailing of letters to the electorate - $14 million; payment to regional agitators - $5.8 million; spreading of "controlled rumors" - $0.8 million. The consulting company adds that $16.8 million more may be spent by parties on other issues, which are certainly to be sums appropriated from parties' budgets.

The average pre-election budget of one party, FBK states, will be $49 million and up to $58.2 million. Thus calculated, the spenditure to be made by a typical single mandate candidate will reach $362,000 ($845,000 in large cities), while the sum legally allowed for spending is not more than $193,400.

Candidates are ready to spend such great sums to enter the Duma. People seeking seats in the parliament are ready to incur such expenses. This first of all concerns businessmen who make up the greatest share of candidates running on the lists of parties and election blocks. Russian businessmen are ready to spend large sums of money to obtain seats in the parliament as they know perfectly well that all spending will be compensated.

This time it is going to be a more complicated task for businessmen to enter the Duma, as spending on the pre-election campaign are much higher this year. Even the Central Election Commission has increased the limit of the election resources in the majority of districts by 3.5 times. According to the new regulations, candidates may spend about $200.000. At the same time, political scientists insist that the sum may be enough only for those candidates who already own a TV channel, a newspaper and an enterprise where many voters work. Otherwise, this sum will not be enough during the pre-election campaign. The average value of a seat on a party list is said to be $1.5 million.

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