Featured News PE2023: How much money can a candidate spend to run for president?

PE2023: How much money can a candidate spend to run for president?

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An amount based on the conditions set by Presidential Elections Act

SINGAPORE: Each presidential candidate can spend up to $812,822.10 on his election campaign, the Elections Department announced on August 12.

The amount is based on the conditions set by Presidential Elections Act. The spending limit for election expenses is currently $600,000 or 30 cents for each elector on the Registers of Electors for all electoral divisions, whichever is greater, says the Elections Department website.

The spending limit has been raised in presidential elections over the last decade. Election expenses were capped at $754,982 in 2017 and $682,431 in 2011.

The outgoing President, Halimah Yacob, was elected unopposed in 2017. But her campaign expenditure totalled $220,875 — money spent on promotional material, office supplies, food, transport, and phone bills.

Dr Tan Cheng Bock was the top spender in the 2011 election with a campaign expenditure of $585,045, Today reported on October 5, 2011. Dr Tony Tan – who narrowly won the election with 35.20 per cent of the vote, defeating Tan Cheng Bock (34.85 per cent), Tan Jee Say (25.04 per cent), and Tan Kin Lian (4.91 per cent) – was the second biggest spender, with a total bill of $503,070.

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Mr Tan Jee Say spent $162,337, while Mr Tan Kin Lian forked out just $70,912.

Dr Tan Cheng Bock spent more than 86 per cent of his campaign outlay on posters, leaflets, name cards, smartphone apps, SMS and email marketing, said Today. Dr Tony Tan spent 58 per cent of his budget on magnets, caps and leaflets. He also spent nearly $50,000 on Google banners, Facebook ads, videos of his walkabouts, and events posted on his website.

The Elections Department says:

“At the end of the Presidential election, every candidate and the appointed election agent must account for all his election expenses and submit a declaration as well as a return of election expenses to the Returning Officer within 31 days after the day on which the result of the election is published in the Singapore Government Gazette. Thereafter, these election expenses will be opened to members of the public for inspection for a period of six months.”

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Candidates also have to pay an election deposit. The amount this year is $40,500.

The rules of campaigning are set out by the Elections Department. Campaigning begins after nomination proceedings conclude on August 22 and ends on the eve of Polling Day (Sept 1).

The Elections Department website states:

Candidates may generally engage in the following activities during the campaign period, subject to them obtaining the relevant licences or permits from other regulatory authorities or the Returning Officer accordingly and within limits prescribed by law:

(a) conduct walkabouts and house-to-house visits;
(b) distribute pamphlets, handouts, newsletters;
publish manifestos;
(c) publish candidate’s biographical details;
(d) use private vehicles (whether mechanically propelled or otherwise) for broadcasting of election messages;
(e) organise election meetings;
(f) publicly display traditional election advertising, i.e. non-online election advertising in the form of a banner, flag or poster; and
(g) publish Online Election Advertising (OEA), i.e. election advertising that is published in any way that renders the election advertising accessible from the Internet.

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Local free-to-air television and radio channels will give airtime to each candidate. Candidates who intend to distribute or publicly exhibit films must submit them to the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) for classification.

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The rules say the following persons cannot take part in election activity:

  • a person who is below 16 years of age;
  • a person who has an order of supervision made against him under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act 1955; and
  • a person who is a foreigner or foreign entity.


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