Thursday, March 27, 2008

Guinea-Bissau sets date for parliamentary elections

From News 24:

The impoverished and unruly West African state of Guinea-Bissau will hold parliamentary elections on November 16, a presidential decree says.

The date was fixed after talks between leaders of the country's 35 political parties and President Joao Vieira, who on Tuesday had expressed concern about the political tensions in the country.

Vieira seized power in 1980 while he was head of the armed forces. He was toppled in 1999 after 19 years of iron-fisted rule and returned from exile to win the presidency as an independent in 2005.

Vieira, however, did not have majority support in parliament and the various party blocs had been arguing over the poll date, with some wanting it held at the end of the current parliamentary term in April.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: "The country's election commission had estimated the cost of the polls at $5.9m," which is roughly $4.21 per person.

A quick search revealed the estimated cost for an election from the United States – cue voice over: the world leader in election politics – for the 2006 Congressional election: $2.6 billion (you read that right). (Thanks Center of Responsive Politics.) That breaks down to roughly $200,000 per person. In Canada – the uncontested leader in parliamentary politics – elections are decidedly cheaper. Total cost for 2000 general election: $199.7 million, which equals to around $6 per person. Campaigning got decidedly more expensive in 2004, when election bills came to a total of $277 million (or $8.40 per person).

Of course, the costs for the North American elections include campaign spending. I wonder what the costs for Guinea-Bissau's include? Is it just organizing polling, getting ballots ready, etc. Or, is campaign spending estimates also included?

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