It is no secret that politics, just like business, requires investment. Lets us then examine how much did each party invest and what returns did they get form the last election. Not surprisingly, the two major ruling parties had the largest war chests. Liberal democrats spent just under $2.5 million, with Democrats trailing a mere 100 grand behind. Also, lib-dems turned out more efficient, paying under $8 per vote, whereas democrats stretched to over $9. This may not sound like much, but it was way less four years ago, when PLDM only paid 50 cents per vote, while democrats paid a good 3.5 dollars. Liberals, on the other hand, are knows for their religiously committed followers, so they never spend a lot. PL is also the most consistent party in this regard with $1.4 in 2010 and $1.3 this year. Communists are the water reflection of the liberals. PCRM spent less than a dollar per vote and half as much four years back. PCRM has always had a dedicated constituency, but half of its based now migrated to the Socialists. Dodon’s meteoric rise came at a relatively low cost. As he only paid $2.7 per vote. Well, he did not have to dig deep into the party’s pocket as the photo op with Putin worked its magic better than a Christmas Fairy.
Note: As you can see from the data, communists have the cheapest seats, their nemesis the liberals come in second, socialists third, whereas liberal democrats and democrats proudly claim the most expensive seats in parliament – worth 107 and 123 thousand dollars each. Data source: Agora.md
Yet, the most intriguing cases are those that failed to enter Parliament. The least efficient spender by far was the little known party, literally called ‘for the people and the country,’ which spent a lavish $161 per each of the 1697 votes it received. Bear in mind that each political party has at least 4000 registered members. If you cannot rely on the votes of your fellow party members, no wonder the rest of the country is hardly buying it either, no matter the largesse. On the other extreme, independent candidate Oleg Brega gathered 14085 votes with no official spending whatsoever. He still failed to reach the 2% threshold, but he did make a splash. My favorite is PCRM2, Reformed Communist Party – a clone so masterfully engineered to snatch votes from the Communists “proper” by simply puzzling the voters, which they brilliantly did, spending a ludicrous three cents per vote in the process. It was a big gamble though, much like any major decision in Moldovan politics. Had the clone got another one percent of the vote, things could have turned ugly for its masters.
Finally, it goes without saying that amounts declared by parties cover only a fraction of their actual campaign spending. Officially declared spending usually covers what parties cannot hide – TV, print and online political advertisement. Yet even here, Democrats outdid themselves in style. On the last stretch of the campaign, PD sponsored a mega concert featuring A list Russian pop stars. The five hour concert was broadcast live on Plahotniuc’s PrimeTV. If he had paid (himself) $5000 for each minute of that five hour long campaign stunt, it would have amounted to $1.5 million. Add here the cost of renting out and catering to the five Russian celebrities and you have a handsome 2 million dollar price tag, which is roughly PD’s entire campaign budget. Well, officially PD got a great bargain and only paid 73 thousand dollars for the show. When looking at financial campaign reports, you cannot help but smile at the inconspicuous 5000 or 10000 MDL donations. Some parties decided to be more honest, listing many generous and less evenly spread donations, but then you may occasionally spot a lifelong civil servant casually chipping in an investment with six zeros . It is no wonder though, as long as each and every voter is equally contempt and envious at the thought that Moldovan politics is indeed the best kind of business!