Dynamics of Electoral Expenditure and the 'Arms Race' Thesis: The Case of New South Wales
(2014) 49(1) Australian Journal of Political Science 84-101.
31 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2017
Date Written: March 2, 2014
Calls for increased regulation are sometimes made in response to what is dubbed an ‘arms race’ in elections – a cost explosion in electoral expenditure driven by the competitive dynamics of elections. In 2010, New South Wales (NSW) adopted the first comprehensive caps on electoral expenditure in Australia on this basis. This paper examines the evidence for a cost explosion over the course of three NSW elections (1999–2007). It finds a significant but unevenly distributed increase in electoral expenditure – over 3 per cent per annum over and above inflation and the growth in voter population. In terms of explaining this spending increase, it finds a close relationship between electoral expenditure and the availability of campaign funds but a less clear one between such expenditure and the ‘winnability’ of the elections.
Keywords: dynamics of electoral expenditure, ‘arms race’ in electoral expenditure, funding of political parties
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