On the average, candidates intending to contest parliamentary elections in Ghana would have to raise up to GHS389, 803 to secure the party primary nomination and compete at the constituency level.
This is a 59 percent increment on the amount needed during the 2012 elections which cost GHS 245,614. The increment was mainly driven by the 140 percent fall of the cedi over the two year period.
A report by the Center for Democratic Development, (CDD) and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, WFD, has revealed.
The amount was spent mainly on the mass media, political advertisements and large-scale rallies which are the primary means of communication with electorates.
According to the report, this has the tendency to make politics a domain for the elite and wealthy and making the recovery of their investments the motivation and incentives of MPs rather than serving the public.
Two hundred and fifty aspirants and sitting MPs were surveyed about their experiences in the 2012 and 2016 elections for the study.
The data showed that a candidate who competed in both the 2012 and 2016 party primaries incurred a cumulative average cost of GHS275,743 whiles on the average, candidates spent GHS121,609 in 2012 on the party primaries contest alone; a figure that rose to GHS154,134 in 2016.
This, according to the researchers is significant, given the income levels among public servants in Ghana, which range from GHS150, 000-GHS200, 000 per annum.
Following the findings, the WFD and CDDGhana are calling for a long term financial planning for elections, especially political parties, as well as a return to the discussion about state funding for the parties.
They also want further efforts, through both formal and informal channels, to increase the transparency of election spending, including requiring candidates and parties to be more open about the costs they incur during the exercise.
Other recommendations include a greater engagement with citizens about the negative implications of making direct financial demands on their MP.
By Nana Oye Ankrah