And The Winners Are! TOP 5 Groups Who Will Benefit From The 2011 Election

This post is a part of the series, Election Economics 101Exploring issues of money, the upcoming general elections (in Jamaica) and the relationship between the two. Stay tuned as we discuss some of the hot topics that you should be concerned about during this time.

It doesn’t matter the day on which it falls. At the end of the December 2011 general election, there will be winners and there will be losers.  Some winners will be bigger than others.

Here are the top 5:

1.  Media & Advertising Companies

Let the political campaigning begin!

Perhaps the highest grossing industries in any election are those that deal directly with propaganda – that is, the propagation of the message. In case you don’t know, advertising with the Mainstream media is extremely costly (just ask Mr. Laing).

The areas of cost include:

  • Prime Time TV commercials on both of the national stations.
  • Full Page newspaper ads in two major papers and two major tabloids.
  • Radio ads at every conceivable period of the day.
  • Billboards.

Advertising is easily the most expensive source of expenditure for political parties when campaigning for an election.

2. Transportation

Transportation is a really big cost!

Campaigning means large groups of “campaigners” and large groups of “supporters” meeting up all across the island, over and over until the end of the elections. The cost includes:

  • Fuelling up big SUV’s daily to cover the length and breadth of Jamaica.

Just think of the 4 hour drive from Kingston to Monetgo Bay.

  • Transporting large groups of supporters to meetings.  

For example; according to the police there were well over 8000 people at the PNP’s conference in September.   Imagine transporting just a half of all those people from Montego Bay to Kingston and back on that one day.

  • To rent one big “coaster” bus is approximately:  $40,000 both ways.
  • Each crammed coaster holds (let’s be extremely liberal): 35 people.
  • There are 4,000 people to transport.
  • That’s 114 buses * 40,000 each = $4,560,000 (one day).
  • Transporting workers and voters on Election Day itself.

This means paying taxi drivers, fuelling party workers vehicles and so forth to go into obscure places to pick up (often) a single frail old woman at a time. The driver must also return the old voter. This continues from the polls open until they close.

3. Food Services

In case you didn’t know, the term “curry-goat” politics comes from the lavish provision of curried goat and other exciting dishes by politicians to supporters during campaigning.

Food Services are a big cost

Question – Have you seen the price of goat meat lately? Have you seen the price of any meat whatsoever lately?

a.    For Supporters

There must be merriment and so there must be food. Also, it just never feels like Christmas or elections in Jamaica if there isn’t a little spirit to wash down the rice, and giddy the heart. Some politicians just buy out the bar!

b.    Staff and Workers

For the near 19,000 workers per party there need to be provisions of food and drink all day election day (and undoubtedly the days leading up to the election). One meal and a drink or two – costs around $500 (being reasonable).  For approximately 19,000 people that cost balloons to around $9,500,000.

4. Communications

Just imagine how much phone credit the JLP or PNP as a group consumes during the election week alone.

63 constituencies, all with offices, all with over 300 on the ground workers (according to a very dated estimate).

If each party gives each of their 18,900 (19,000) workers, just one $100 phone card (costing $125). That will cost $2,362,500.

I doubt they use only one phone card each.

5. YOU – Individual Jamaicans

 a.    EOJ

If you are lucky enough to be chosen by the Electoral Office of Jamaica as one of the over 24,000 election day workers expected to manage the voting process, then you may also benefit.

In 2007 the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) recruited over 24,200 election workers.  All of whom had to be trained and all workers had to be paid.

Payment in 2007 went like this:

i.  $5,000 to poll clerks
ii. $7,500 each for presiding officers and machine operators
iii.$500 for each day’s training and;
iv. $1,500 (additional) for mandatory simulation training.

 b.    Party Workers

The party worker is perhaps one of the most critical tools in a party’s mobilization arsenal.

In a 2002 interview, the JLP’s Dr. Ken Baugh noted that there may be as many as 300 workers (indoor and outdoor agents and runners) within each constituency on Election Day.

Each worker is paid at least $1,000 each, excluding food and transportation costs. Surely that money has increased by now. (That’s $300,000 per constituency, multiplied by 63 = $18,900,000).

c.    Hand outs

Curry goat politics.

Like it or not millions are spent simply “encouraging” people to vote. Buy rounds of drinks. Lightening the Christmas spirit.

Many Jamaicans stand to earn from the elections simply by asking, “Boss, let off summin pon the yutes dem nuh – a you wi a vote for enuh.”  

Will you be a winner this election? What do you think about the areas I have listed?

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Andrew Wildes (@AndrewWildes), a law student, journalist and aspiring author. Read more about Andrew at MaximizeMyLife.

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