Comparison of 2009 and 2013 election years in Québec - The municipal political parties and authorized independent candidates used fewer resources in 2013

QUÉBEC CITY, June 19, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The Chief Electoral Officer of Québec, Mr. Jacques Drouin, today announces the publication of an accessible information document titled "Data and statistics in municipal financing". This document can be found on the DGEQ's website at www.electionsquebec.qc.ca. It confirms, among other things, that when comparing the 2009 electoral year to that of 2013, the municipal political parties and authorized independent candidates received fewer resources in 2013. The total revenue of the parties declined by 19.6%, which can be mainly explained by a 24.7% fall in the value of contributions when compared to 2009. As for contributions collected by authorized independent candidates, they dropped by 16.2% in 2013 when compared to the total amassed in 2009. The share of revenues coming from municipalities were largely unchanged (proportionately) last year when compared to the previous electoral year. Furthermore, the amount of election expenses declared by all of the parties and candidates was about $11.4 million in 2013 (compared to $12.9 million in 2009), and could result in up to $6.4 million (against $5.7 million in 2009) in reimbursements of election expenses from the municipalities.

The Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM) requires that municipal political parties file their annual financial report on April 1 of each year with the treasurer of the municipality. Moreover, the election expense reports following the November 3, 2013 general elections had to be submitted by February 1, 2014, which was 90 days after the date set for the poll. For the first time, the document published today covers information on municipalities of less than 5,000 inhabitants that are subject to Chapter XIV of the AERM.

A new legislative framework

To better understand the situation experienced by municipal political actors in 2013, one must recall that on June 21, 2013 the Act to amend the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities with respect to financing came into force. It is a transitory regime introduced for the November 3 municipal elections. The new Act lowered the maximum allowed contribution from $1,000 to $300 for a political party or an authorized independent candidate, in addition to reducing by 30% the ceiling for electoral expenses. A candidate could however make a contribution of up to $700 to their own campaign and take advantage of a reimbursement of 70% of election expenses, compared to 50% under the former provisions.

This new framework had a significant impact on the debt levels of political parties. Indeed, the total net assets of authorized political went from a positive balance of $1.3 million on December 31, 2012 to an accumulated deficit of more than $1.1 million on December 31, 2013. This indicator shows a deterioration of the financial situation of the political parties and an increase in their level of debt. In total, 72 of the 175 political parties now have a deficit, that is 41.1% of them compared to 14.7% in 2012.

Revenues of parties and candidates: from municipalities and electors

In 2013, 55.7% of municipal political parties' income came from the municipality (52.3% in 2009), which reimburses the electoral expenses of a party, in addition to reimbursing part of auditing costs. In municipalities with 50,000 or more inhabitants, the parties also benefit from a reimbursement of research and support expenses as allowed under the Cities and Towns Act. Also understand that in Québec City and Montréal, the political parties have a right, in addition, to an allowance similar to the one that the DGEQ gives to the provincial political parties. In 2013, the total of these allowances and reimbursements of research and support expenses reached $1.1 million, compared to $2.9 million in 2009, for all of the municipalities in this category.

Another source of revenue for parties and authorized independent candidates comes from contributions collected under the supervision of the official representative and in accordance with the rules of the AERM. In 2013, the total amount of contributions collected was a little more than $3.7 million and accounted for 38.9% of municipal parties' revenue. This represents a 24.7% decline, compared to 2009. The authorized independent candidates for their part collected $2.7 million in contributions last year, compared to $3.2 million in 2009, a decline of 16.2%. In addition we observe that the candidates are very financially involved in their own election campaigns or those of their party, with the value of their personal contributions representing 32.7% of all contributions collected. In all, 93% of candidates gave a contribution in 2013.

An examination of the data from the last five fiscal years reveals that average  contributions of $100 or more per donor have been in free fall. For the political parties, it has dropped from $478 in 2009, to $226 (a reduction of 52.7%) for the final part of 2013, following the lowering of the annual contribution limit. As for independent candidates, the average contributions have dropped from $443 in 2009 to $320 for  2013, a drop of 27.8%.

Some data on municipal political parties

In the 185 Québec municipalities with 5,000 or more inhabitants there were 200 political parties, at one moment or another, during the previous year. As of December 31, 2013 there were 175 authorized municipal political parties in Québec. Last year, 81 new municipal political parties received authorization, while 25 parties requested their authorization be withdrawn, thus terminating their existence. At the moment, 161 municipal political parties are authorized in Québec.

In municipalities with less than 5,000 inhabitants

919 municipalities in Québec had less than 5,000 inhabitants during the municipal general elections held on November 3, 2013 and were subject to chapter XIV of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities, which lays out the rules concerning financing (collecting cash donations) for candidates. In these municipalities, 4,037 positions for mayors or councillors out of 6,420 were filled by acclamation.

Where there were elections, 3,881 donations of $100 or more were collected by candidates, for a total of nearly $1.2 million. More than 77% of these donations of $100 and more were given by the candidates themselves.

In the document "Statistics on municipal financial reports", a series of tables presents the information on each of the municipal political parties that filed a financial report in 2013, as well as the consolidated data by administrative region and by population strata. This document is available on the DGEQ's website at: http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/francais/municipal/financement-et-depenses-electorales/rapports-financiers-municipaux.php

SOURCE: Directeur général des élections

For further information: Stéphanie Isabel, Information agent, (418) 644?3320 or 1 888 870-3320, sisabel@dgeq.qc.ca

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