Galway politicians will have to run their campaigns on a tighter budget than before as this year’s Local Elections will see spending limits applied to candidates and parties for the first time.
This week, the Minister for the Environment John Gormley outlined the new spending limits at local elections, which came into force this week.
Election spending incurred between April 7 and June 5 must be included on a declaration submitted by candidates and political parties within 90 days of polling day. Every candidate will have to record the cost of everything s/he uses in the campaign, including posters, leaflets, merchandise, and advertising.
A sliding scale with four separate spending limits, based on the population within each individual electoral area, will apply. A top limit of €15,000 will apply in the most populated areas, with limits of €13,000, €11,500, and €9,750 to apply to candidates in other county and city council electoral areas, depending on their population. In a Galway context this means that in a ward like Galway City West, a limit of €11,700 per candidate will apply.
Due to different administrative responsibilities, a standard spending limit will apply to all 80 of the borough and town councils. Candidates standing for election to these local authorities will be subject to a spending limit of €7,500 in all cases.
The announcement of the spending limits has been welcomed by Green councillor Niall Ó Brolcháin
“In the competitive atmosphere at an election,” he said, “parties and candidates can be drawn into a spiral of competitive spending which can serve no real purpose other than to run the risk of needless increased expenditure.”
Minister Gormley also announced that election posters, for both the Local and European elections, may not be erected until May 6 - 30 days before the polling day. All posters must be removed by June 12.
“I also welcome stricter controls on election posters,” Cllr Ó Brolcháin said. “There is an agreement by some Galway city Councillors not to erect posters on the Green Dragon route of the Volvo Ocean Race during the election. I intend to honour this agreement.”