Free and fair elections aren’t cheap

By Sarah Gilbert

A Tunisian woman shows her ink finger after voting outside Tunis 2011 (Reuters)

A Tunisian woman shows her ink finger after voting outside Tunis 2011 (Reuters)

 
Free and fair elections notwithstanding, Americans long ago became accustomed to the idea that penniless candidates tend not to get very far in this country.
 
As the political season heats up, barely a day passes without another explainer in the US media about the effect that so-called ‘Super PACS’ – turbo-charged fundraising operations created in the wake of a 2010 Supreme Court ruling – could have on the upcoming 2012 election.
 
Now one columnist, writing in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat, is claiming that money was the deciding factor in October’s Tunisian election. Yes, the one which was heralded by many as a real sign of progress to come from the Arab Spring.
 
But Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, who also happens to be the General Manager of the Al-Arabiya television channel, isn’t decrying the effect that filthy lucre has on the democratic process.
 
Rather, he suggests that Arab politicians and their potential voters have a lot to learn from the American model.
 
Al-Rashad even has a nice analogy to bring the point home. To win, he says, candidates must “acknowledge that elections are like marriage; namely that they are expensive and difficult to pull off”.

 

Straight to the Source