Ever see those movies were the average joe runs for office and wins? Well that’s not so easy in Lebanon where candidates must pay at total of 8 million LL ($5,300) just to enter the race.
First candidates must deposit over 6 million LL in a ‘campaign account’ and then fork over 2 million LL in election fees.
Here’s a screen shot of the official document:
$5,300 is more than half a year’s salary for the majority of Lebanese who earn less than $1,000 per month.
The worst part of all of this is that the winning candidates actually get to keep all of the money in the campaign account, while the losers may lose all of it, according to Paul Morcos, an attorney who recently explained the process to a group of independent candidates.
Only candidates that earn 20 percent of the vote are the able to retain the funds in the campaign account.
But how many first time candidates will earn that much?
The system seems to disadvantage newcomers. If they decide to run again, they’ll have to keep paying into the system, while the winner keeps the money from the previous cycle, in addition to the lavish MP salary he/she has been earning while in office.
One more stipulation: Candidates must have a clean judicial record, which is a good way of excluding activists who may have gone to jail for civil disobedience.
Of course this does not apply to the warlords that rule Lebanon today who may have taken part in mass murder and all assortments of heinous crimes during the 15 year civil war that helped them get into power. Their police records are squeaky clean thanks to the 1991 amnesty law.
On the brighter side, a number of independent candidates are running this year, with groups such as Take Back Parliament. They could probably use all the support they can get.