Why no funds for LG candidates?

As we prepare for the local government elections, we are reminded yet again of the unfair treatment in the system that could have a serious impact on the nation in the long term. Perhaps this is the right time, if there are ears ready to listen, to make necessary changes so that the whole of our governance system doesn’t go haywire.

Governance doesn’t just start from one end of the society and end on the other side so naturally and harmlessly. It has to be built concertedly with aims bigger than benefits for small sections of people and individuals. Sadly, however, this is exactly what seems to be happening in our happy little society that has toiled so hard to foster harmony.

Democracy arrived and we have had quite a run with it. It is time we learnt how to manage our own household well. That’s the whole point as best it could be understood in a nutshell. It is almost cringingly inane that only candidates who stand for parliamentary elections are eligible for campaign funds. Local governments are as important as our honourable MPs individually, because at the heart of our decentralisation policy lies the idea of empowering the local governments.

Why can’t those manning the very foundation of the governance system be denied of the campaign funds?

There is something wrong in the way we dispense election funds when the vital sections of our government are left to walk on the burning embers, so to speak. If funds could be given to the parliamentary candidates because doing so will curb “undue influence” of money power during elections, there is no reason why those standing for posts in the local governments cannot have. The argument is just too illogical.

Elections will somehow be largely influenced by the power of money because the candidates who stand for the election will have to represent certain sections of the people. If elections didn’t cost one buck, it could have been a different thing altogether. So, why the difference? How are our parliamentary candidates eligible for campaign funds when those who at the very root of the governance system are not?

We are yet to dig the impossible humour that says a candidate standing for a local government post can spend no more than Nu 50,000 of his or her own money for the campaign. We, as constituents, have the right to know what is really the purpose of this rule?

Weakening the local governments will not help democracy mature; plans and programmes that the people wish for will never come true. The least we can hope for is a governance system where people in the power can indefinitely hold on to positions with perks and power while people at the grassroots are let to die of thirst.

The greatest and, perhaps, the clearest mark of a maturing democracy is the respect for equity and justice. If democracy should succeed, local governments must be given equal importance.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    The candidates to the NA election are eligible for the ‘election fund’, but that happens only in the final round where we have only two political parties in contest. Similar election funds are not available for the candidates in the preliminary round that decides the final two parties for the final round of election to NA. And I hope that I have got that right, or I am sorry otherwise.

    Same way when we are talking the local government elections especially for the posts of Gup and Mangmi; it’s the selection procedure, ‘Zomdu’ that decides the final nominated candidates for election. And frankly speaking, I don’t know a lot many technical details about a Zomdu. But if I am not wrong, there is no clause in place to limit the maximum number of candidates for local government elections as the size of the total vote bank eventually decides the number of candidates eligible at the end of the zomdus unless the nominations are rejected for other technical grounds. If there is only a single eligible candidate contesting for a post of gup or mangmi, there will be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote.

    If this is the scenario we are looking at, which candidates should be considered for a ‘election fund’ and exactly at which stage of the election process! And it’s also true that no election can be held or contested with just no expenditure. In last NA election, we had four political parties taking part in the first phase of election and we are still not sure of how many political parties will contest in the coming NA election. What we know for sure is that we will be having two political parties in the final round with two candidates contesting for every seat and both of them will get to spend the allotted ‘election fund’.

    But in local government elections, there is no political party involved. But in constituencies with larger number of eligible voters, number of candidates contesting for one single seat may be more. It’s mentioned only in today’s edition that some 90 eligible candidates are nominated for local government posts at Wangdue at the closing of the Zomdu.

    So even if we have a provision in place for ‘election funds’ in LG elections; what is the number of eligible nominated candidates and size of an election expenditure fund we are actually looking at! Will it not lead to more confusion without the provisions in place to know the exact number of eligible nominations so that a budget can be planned well in advance and in time?

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