Monday, April 16, 2007

Something the French get right - elections

The French presidential elections are scheduled to end next Sunday, April 22nd and provide an interesting example to Americans on how to reduce the sleaze, obsessive fundraising and electorate burnout of our own presidential campaign.

The French elections have a sharply reduced schedule. The official campaign is a mere two weeks, and the `unofficial' campaign - starting when the candidates are picked by their respective parties - begins in October and November of the previous year.

Usually, the elections are held in two rounds - the first one, held April 22nd normally ends in a runoff between the two top vote getters and the second round is held roughly three weeks later.

Even better is the campaign financing end of things. Each candidate in the French elections has a spending limit of $22 million for the first round, and $27 million for the second. Contributors aren't allowed to give money to individual candidates, only to their respective parties. Television advertising is free,very limited and closely controlled. This year, the entire election is expected to cost a mere $350 million or so.

Just as a contrast, over according to documents filed by all the candidates with the Federal Election Commission, over $125 million has already been spent...not raised, but spent.

And we're still ten months away from the `Super Tuesday' primaries in February of 2008, a year and four months away from the party conventions, and a year and 8 months away from the general elections in November 2008!

The US is not France (for one thing, it's considerably larger and has a larger population) but can you imagine what our elections would be like if we had spending caps of $50 million per candidate, a much shorter electoral season and free, limited and strictly controlled TV advertising?

Can you imagine how it would benefit the country as a whole and strengthen our Republic if our presidential candidates spent less than half the time they do now on fundraising, and were able spend more time debating,thinking and formulating policy..not to mention taking stands on the issues without worrying as much about how it would effect their big donors?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

swhat percentage of the vote do you suppose al gore will get???????