By Monday I will submit my 2022 campaign costs to the Electoral Commission. The total cost of my campaign, from 25th October 2021 to 26th March 2022, is of €701.15.
In reality the reporting time-frame required is much shorter (the duration of the official campaign period), however I had incurred one cost before this, in October, to pay a photographer for my official campaign portraits. Costs incurred in March include €180 for registration as a candidate on two districts; €128 to print flyers; €122 to post flyers; €100 to place one advert in the Sunday Times of Malta; €72.50 on travel (full tank + two ride-share cabs); and €13.65 on stationery.
Did you know that in some countries, political parties receive state-funding? In Malta we don’t. Yet, campaigns cost money, and it is a political decision to decide how much to spend and on which items. Receiving donations is also political. I personally saw value and worth in my campaign, and I was also lucky to be in a position to afford to spend 700€ of my own savings. I received no monetary donations, and encouraged those people who reached out to donate to ADPD instead. That way the money could be used for the whole team of candidates, and on our successful campaign to make every vote count.
The Hidden Costs of Campaigning
There are many costs (and donations) in a campaign which go beyond the monetary. In order to support my work as an activist, (as well as a freelance self-employed consultant with irregular contracts and hours), I live rent-free with my parents. In March, money I would have otherwise spent on living expenses was spent on my campaign. As I work freelance, I was able to keep March as free as possible from (paid & other voluntary) work commitments in order to develop communications material for the party and for my own campaign. This included videos, reels, press releases, newsletters, and comics – moderation of online comments sections and more.
My campaign and ADPD’s campaign therefore benefitted from one month of free labour of a communications consultant with over 10 years experience in the field. Additional to all this are the volunteer hours, particularly of those who helped me canvas and flyer. But the current reporting system does not allow us to account for this volunteer hour contributions as ‘expenditure’.
Then, there is of course the emotional and care labour undertaken mostly by women, trans men and non-binary people who have supported me throughout the month. As well as the costs for professional therapy sessions I attended during the month, which I do not include in final campaign costs. The mental health of candidates is important, over a campaign we can put ourselves through many stressful situations which can have an impact on our wellbeing. We can face harassment, burnout, and more.
Therefore, I wish there was a way to put forward a more feminist approach to calculating campaign expenditures. Without calculating emotional labour, and voluntary hours, can we truly know how much a campaign actually costs?
The official reporting form feels outdated, and leaves much to be desired. I can imagine a number of ways how this can be improved, but can’t imagine there is the broader political will to change it.
Finally, another cost of campaigning is the environmental one. In order to keep printing and postage to a minimum, I split just one flyer on the 9th District with ADPD’s two other candidates on that district. The cost was of 250€ each for both postage and printing. Trust me – we thought long and hard about this – it is not easy to send out flyers as the Green Party. However considering what we were (and are) up against, sending one flyer split between candidates felt justified.
Where possible we also carpooled, and I offered lifts to Sandra Gauci to as many campaign events as possible. While in the last week of the campaign I carpooled with both Brian Decelis and Sandra Gauci. When I was attending a campaign event on my own, I chose to cycle.