Political advertising expenditures by electoral subjects: 2008-2020 pre-election period - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

Political advertising expenditures by electoral subjects: 2008-2020 pre-election period

14 January, 2021

 

This report presents the analysis of pre-election advertising expenditures of political subjects carried out during[1] the last 10 elections and covers the period of 2008-2020[2]. 2012-2020 data is based on the cash expenditures[3] in declarations[4] submitted to the State Audit Office – the body responsible for monitoring political finances. However, the Central Election Commission (CEC) was responsible for monitoring political finances during the period of 2008-2011, thus this report includes[5] the declarations submitted to the CEC for this period of research. It is important to mention that before 2012 CEC was responsible solely on collecting the information and did not exercise an oversight function. There are a number of discrepancies in declarations fulfilled by electoral subjects, thus the transparency[6] is not sufficiently ensured. Since 2012, when this function was delegated to the State Audit Office, the system has been relatively improved, however, flaws[7] still exist. This circumstance complicates precise analysis of expenditures  carried out by the political subjects.

Speaking about the monitoring period, it has to be taken into account that the expenditure forms that are to be submitted by political subjects have been changed[8] several times during these years. The filled out and published forms of expenditures submitted  by majority of political subjects during 2012 parliamentary elections are partially or completely unreadable[9], while the State Audit Office no longer possesses the original versions as they were disposed[10] in accordance with law. However, we succeeded in obtaining majority[11] of the declarations. The aforementioned faults may bring insignificant errors forward, however, this does not affect general tendencies and findings.

Findings:

  • During the pre-election period of the last 10 elections, conducted in 2008-2020, political subjects spent GEL 225 Million, where GEL 134 Million (59%) was political advertisement expenses, which includes advertisement production, placement and distribution.
  • The largest amount of expenses is incurred by the ruling parties or candidates supported by them, that in 2008-2020 summed up to GEL 98 Million. This is 73% of the total sum spent by political subjects for advertising purposes.
  • The largest part of expenses is spent on TV commercials. This expenditure compiled more than GEL 79 Million (59% of total sum spent for advertisements).
  • The highest amount – GEL 29.1 Million was spent on the 2020 Parliamentary[12] elections, whereas the least amount – GEL 3.8 Million was spent for the 2013 Presidential election.
  • The Internet-Ad is one of the most growing expenses from the pre-election expenditures, which in 2012 was equal to GEL 50 Thousand, where in 2018 it summed up to GEL 800 Thousand and by 2020 it exceeded GEL 3 Million. The least amount of expenses is related to branded accessories, which in 2012-2020 was less than GEL 1 Million.
  • The election declarations are filled with flaws by political subjects, especially during the period of 2008-2011; It is difficult or practically impossible to process certain data. The declaration forms and fulfillment standards were improved during 2012-2020, however, we often encounter declarations that are not fulfilled uniformly, and this circumstance complicates the process of data analysis.

Analysis of the political advertisement expenses
 

Transparency International Georgia studied the advertisement expenses spent by political subjects during the period of 2008-2020 and to what extent was the ruling party dominating in this direction. The domination problem of the ruling party is frequently discussed in assessments by local and international organizations[13].

During the last 10 elections conducted in  the period of 2008-2020 political subjects spent GEL 225 Million, out of which GEL 134 Million (59%) was political advertisement expenses.

The largest amount – GEL 29.1 Million was spent on the 2020 Parliamentary elections, whereas the least amount – GEL 3.8 Million was spent on the 2013 Presidential election. The expenses during the 2020 parliamentary election are record-high and exceeds this type of expenses of the previous, 2016 Parliamentary elections by GEL 11.3 Million.

*The change in forms of advertising expenditure over the years should be considered

On the other hand, the biggest proportion of expenses are spent on TV advertisements. In 2008-2020 political subjects allocated more than GEL 79 Million (59% of total sum spent for advertisements) for the TV advertisements.

Internet advertising is one of the most stably growing pre-election advertising types. In 2012 expenses for the Internet advertisements amounted to GEL 50 Thousand, whereas in 2018 it summed up to GEL 800 Thousand[14] and by 2020 it exceeded GEL 3 Million. The least expense is related to branded accessories, which in 2012-2020 reached less than GEL 1 Million[15].

The research revealed a definite tendency that the subjects of the ruling party or candidates supported by them spend the highest expenses on advertisements that in 2008-2020 summed up to GEL 98 Million. This is 73% of the total amount spent on advertisements by political subjects.

2013 Presidential Election is the sole exclusion from this context, when the ruling party spent only GEL 471 thousand on advertisements, whereas four times more, GEL 2.1 Million, was spent by Nino Burjanadze’s opposition party Democratic Movement – United Georgia and GEL 1.1 Million was spent by the former ruling party – United National Movement.

For more clarity, we should look at the allocation of political advertisement expenses among the political subjects during each election conducted in the period of 2008-2020.

 

[1] 2008, 2013 and 2018 Presidential, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Parliamentary, 2010, 2014, 2017 Local Self- Government Elections.

[2]  2020 expenses cover the expenditures of the 1.09.2020-17.11.2020 period submitted by the political subjects to the State Audit Office. Last check - 27.11.2020.

[3] Cash expenditure - The factual amount paid by political subjects

[5] Central Election Commission, https://finrep.cec.gov.ge/?lang=geo

[6] Political Party Finance Report, Transparency International - Georgia, https://bit.ly/34L7rn5

[7] Georgia’s Political Finance in 2019: Revenues and Expenditures of Political Parties and Financial Oversight, Transparency International - Georgia, 07.08.2019, https://bit.ly/3hnwdhS

[8] By the period of 2008-2010, political subjects were obliged to fill in the following fields in the sections of advertising expenditures: TV commercials (including production), press commercials and billboards (including production), printed campaign materials (posters, pre-election statements, etc.). TV commercial, printed advertisement, internet advertisement, branded accessorized advertisement and other advertisement expenses since 2012. Outdoor Advertising has been separated and added since 2016.

[9] State Audit Office, https://bit.ly/3okSTlr

[10] State Audit Office Letter, https://bit.ly/3eifB8h , 13.05.2020

[11] Excluding: Georgian Troupe, Christian-Democratic People’s Party, National-Democratic Party, For the Fair Georgia.

[12] The 2020 expenditure covers the expenses of the political subjects submitted to the State Audit Office during the period of 1.09.2020-17.11.2020. Last Check 27.11.2020

[13] The statement of International Observers regarding the 2020 Parliamentary Elections, 1.20.2020, https://bit.ly/37H2zzV

[14] “Internet Advertising Expenses” were not filled in separately before 2012.

[15] “Branded Accessorized Advertising Expenses” were not filled in separately before 2012.

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