Price of Democracy. In three words, my French friend casually dismissed a serious topic. The French elections are coming up next year and the opposition party is in the process of finding the right candidate to contest the incumbent president. I'm completely ignorant about the policies of the various parties and also the challenges of France. But what caught my attention was how the government bears the cost of the campaigns.
In France, if a candidate secures 5% or above, the government funds their campaign. If the candidate is too poor to fund his/her campaign, the government allocates money for them to run their campaign. Why is this so? This is mainly to ensure that anyone can contest an election - be it poor or rich. Ironically, it is mostly the political parties who put up a candidate. The political parties have their pots of gold. Then, why this elaborate charade? Funding the campaigns is a way to take out "special interests" out of the equation. When the candidates have the money to finance your campaign, they do not have to depend on "special interests". Ideally, this should translate into meaningful legislation for the people. In a way, this will certainly curtail corruption to an extent.
Having known the French flair for checks in the form of documentation, this is an addition burden on the government. They must be having a specific organization monitoring this process at all stages. Doesn't it mean a lot of tax money which is dedicated for performing these checks and also funding the campaign? That is when my friend shrugged it off with the simple statement of "Price of Democracy"!