Sunday, 16 November 2008
The final figures are not yet available - but it is estimated that almost $2 billion (that's a B!) was spent by candidates in the 2008 Presidential election. A blog on the New York Times website recently stated "the debate over how future campaigns will be financed is set to begin in earnest. The outcome promises to have a profound impact on future presidential runs, either upping the fund-raising ante irrevocably or forcing sweeping changes to prevent such large amounts of cash from coursing through campaigns again. But just as it has in this election cycle, it is quite likely that politics, as much as principle, will shape the jockeying."
Campaign Finance reform has had a chequered history in the USA - the main stumbling bloc has been the constitutionally guaranteed Free Speech Rights (First Amendment)
A Congressional Research Service paper on the issue is available at http://italy.usembassy.gov/pdf/other/RL33580.pdf
The Brookings Institute has a webpage on the issue - http://www.brookings.edu/topics/campaign-finance.aspx and a campaign site (one amongst many) can be accessed at http://www.publicampaign.org/
In the UK, the amounts of money are much smaller - but the issue is still of great concern. There are now legal limits on how much individual candidates can spend; and on the national expenditure of parties. A paper prepared by the House of Commons Library can be read at http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/notes/snpc-03413.pdf.