Increasing voluntary contributions

The election commission’s decision to increase the voluntary contribution ceiling to political parties is hazardous to the health of our fledgling democracy (read ECB’s notification).

It’s hazardous because increasing the amount that members can contribute will strengthen the two existing parties, and place any future party at a big disadvantage.

It’s hazardous because increasing the voluntary contribution ceiling by 500% to Nu 500,000 per member per year disproportionately favors one party – the ruling party, DPT, which also enjoys an overwhelming majority. To be sure, even a ceiling of Nu 100,000 favours DPT more than PDP, but that ceiling was established before the elections, and both parties were fully aware of the rules. Changing the rules now, in the middle of the game so to speak, risks bolstering one party unfairly.

And it’s very hazardous because only a handful of Bhutanese can afford to make voluntary contributions of Nu 500,000 per year. Naturally, big money, from those few hands, will influence politics that much more, defeating the whole purpose of defining a ceiling in the first place.

If increasing the voluntary contribution ceiling is not good for a healthy and vibrant democracy, ECB should reconsider the decision.