By Georges Sassine

Crowd funding lebanese political campaigns

Lebanese elections are postponed which means that time is available to rethink electoral reform and better position moderate and independent political candidates.

One of the major issues distorting Lebanon’s political process has been foreign financing of political campaigns. Corruption and vote-buying has become the norm, independent and moderate candidates are out-competed, and the public interest is rarely served.

Taming big money in Lebanese politics can be addressed on two fronts.

The first one is through campaign financing regulations and oversight mechanisms. The goal is to ensure transparent disclosure and monitoring of political finances. Efforts are focused around finding the proper regulation design and more importantly on its implementation and enforcement.

Relative to past Lebanese electoral practices progress is being made on a political finance framework and should be seriously considered in future electoral reform debates.

Crowd funding tools can be game-changing and enable a true independent political movement in Lebanon.Georges Sassine

While pessimists doubt significant progress on that front in the near-term, a second measure could have more immediate results. Crowd funding is changing politics in the United States and it is time it is adopted in Lebanon.

Collecting small donations from Lebanese residents and expatriates through social networks and allowing them to transparently track how their contributions are spent could potentially raise significant amounts of funding. With tens of millions of Lebanese across the globe the potential is enormous. If only 1 percent of the Lebanese community donated just $9 a month for a year, more than ten million dollars could be raised.

Crowd funding tools can be game-changing and enable the formation of a true independent and national movement in Lebanon. It will level the playing field and enable independent candidates to compete for political office. The source of funding will also impact the credibility of candidates, increase voter turnouts, and empower citizens to hold elected officials accountable.

In short, money has changed politics in Lebanon to the worse. Maybe political finance regulations and crowd-funding tools can reverse this trend and money can change politics in Lebanon to the better.


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