- 10.745.881 million have so far been allocated through direct awards for the October polls – Still to be announced the awards for approved funds of at least €500,000 more.
- The lion’s share to Singular with almost 7 million euros, ELTA and ELTA Courier with 600,000 euros, and to the contractors of screens, and election envelopes.
- The paradox with the screens: The purchase before the parliamentary elections and the new expenditure of more than 1.4 million euros while the polling stations are the same.
- What does the law provide for the “fixed” allowances of 77 million in each election.
by Vassilis Galoupis
The three elections in 2023 are expected to boost spending to more than €330 million, the highest amount historically allocated in a single year for ballot boxes in Greece. Direct awards are also “running” for the Local Government Elections, as was the case for the two parliamentary elections, having already reached €11 million a week before the first round on October 8.
However, a key reason for the sharp increase in this year’s spending was the special amendment of the Ministry of Finance to the draft law of the Ministry of Interior, submitted on April 10, 2023.
This amendment increased the amount of the special electoral allowance for each electoral procedure from €60 million in 2019 to €77 million. The amounts relate to the human resources of all sectors and agencies of the state apparatus involved in each election.
The first survey by Data Journalists showed that at least €94,169,610 was spent on the May 2023 general election (How much the polls cost in 2023). These amounts came from the “special election allowance” for thousands of civil servants and direct contracts for bags, screens, stamps, chairs, Singular for the collection – transmission of results, etc.
In the June 2023 elections, the amount exceeded 85 million (77 million for special allowances, plus the inelastic costs of the procedure).
The cost for the first round of the Local Government Elections on October 8 is already at 88 million (77 million for special allowances, plus approved direct awards of over 11.2 million).
The costs for the second round cannot be predicted, as they depend entirely on the election results of the first round in the regions and municipalities. It is expected to reach at least €65-70 million, possibly higher because several costs are considered inelastic and “follow” each election process. It should be noted, however, that some direct awards have already been made for both rounds.
Although the bill is not yet closed, the cost of this year’s elections is expected to be in the range of 330-350 million euros.
According to published figures, which we mentioned in our previous research on the subject, the three electoral processes in 2015 (two parliamentary elections and a referendum) cost around €115 million. The cost of the January 2015 parliamentary elections amounted to €55 million, while the second parliamentary elections in September were close to €33 million. The referendum had cost about another 27 million euros.
The appropriations of the Ministry of Interior show that the three ballot boxes in 2019 (European elections, parliamentary elections, local elections) amounted to 150 million euros.
For example, the last elections before the financial crisis, those of 2009, had exceeded 68 million euros. It is estimated that in that year’s parliamentary elections, more than 160,000 employees (Ministry of Interior, judiciary, municipal employees, security forces, etc.) received an election allowance. The following year, 2010, the electoral allowance was reduced by 20% in the November local elections, as was the number of officials, in an attempt to contain costs due to the austerity deal.
In the 2012 parliamentary elections, according to earlier reports, a slight drop was recorded, with costs reaching 60 million, while in 2014, when the municipal-regional and European elections were held simultaneously, 90 million euros were spent.
The paradox of the screens
In view of the parliamentary elections in May, the Ministry of Interior approved on 22.4.2023 the “commitment of an amount of 177,320 euros to cover the cost of supplying special screens for the needs of the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2023”.
However, on September 19, in view of the Local Government Elections, a direct award for the supply of 10,000 pieces of special dividers (screens) for the needs of the initial and run-off voting (first and second rounds) of the upcoming 2023 regional and municipal elections was posted on “Diavgeia”. The expenditure amounts to EUR 1 463 200 including VAT.
Given that the polling stations will be the same (21,262 in the May and June elections) with negligible variations, the legitimate question is why an additional 10,000 new screens were deemed necessary when two elections were held just a few months ago. Logical attrition sounds justified as an argument, but 10,000 screens is not a number that readily responds to such an argument.
It could possibly be that part of the quantity of screens is related to Thessaly, due to the damage to security depots in the two recent bad weather events, but there is no such specific justification in the relevant documents notified by the Ministry of Interior for the direct award of the contract.
All direct awards for the 2023 Local Government Elections so far
The timeline of the decisions of the Ministry of Interior with the direct assignments for this year’s Local Government Elections is:
- July 28, 2023: Modification of the decision no. 66980/12-10-2022 on the direct award of services for the development of the Information System “Diavgeia” for Municipal and Regional Elections, within the Integrated System for the Support of Electoral Procedures. Amount of expenditure 142.600 euros, including VAT. Contractor: SingularLogic.
- August 4, 2023: Direct award of a contract for the provision of transport services for election material (up to 500 journeys). EUR 54,560 including VAT. Contractor: Union of Macedonia Transport Company.
- August 4, 2023: Direct assignment for the provision of postal services by the Hellenic Post (ELTA) for the transportation of all types of election material for the needs of the Local Government Elections on October 8th and 15th, 2023, with the possibility of a 10% increase. Total expenditure: 400,000 euros, including VAT. Contractor: Hellenic Post (ELTA).
- August 4, 2023: Direct award for the provision of courier services in view of the local elections of October 8 and 15, 2023, with the possibility of a 10% increase. Amount of expenditure EUR 200.000 including VAT. Contractor: ELTA Courier.
- September 14, 2023: Direct assignment of storage services for the electoral material of the Ministry of Interior for a duration of four years. Total expenditure: 410,737 euros. Contractor: “ECONOMOU TRANSPORT LTD”.
- September 19, 2023: Direct award of a contract for the supply of 120,000 electoral bags for the needs of the initial and run-off voting (first and second rounds) of the upcoming regional and municipal elections. Amount of expenditure EUR 89,280 including VAT. Contractor: “THRACE POLYFILMS SINGLE MEMBER S.A.”
- September 19, 2023: Direct award for the supply of 10,000 pieces of special dividers (screens) for the needs of the initial and run-off voting (first and second rounds) of the upcoming 2023 regional and municipal elections. Amount of expenditure EUR 1.463.200 including VAT. Contractors: To the company under the name of “FOUKIS PANAGIOTIS & Co. with the distinctive title “VIOFIL”, “LATERN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY S.A.”
- September 21, 2023: Direct award of a contract for the supply of 22 million election envelopes. Total expenditure: 1,152,158 euros, including VAT. Contractors: “A AND G PAPER ANONYMOUS COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL COMPANY FOR PAPER TRADE AND PROCESSING”, “V. ILIOPOULOS & CO”, and “IONIAN ANONYMOUS INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL COMPANY FOR PAPER PROCESSING”.
- September 26, 2023: Direct award for the supply of cleaning materials in view of the upcoming October 2023 local elections. The amount of expenditure is 6,154 euros. Contractor: Clean by Daily Fresh.
- September 27, 2023: Direct award of contract for the collection and transmission of the results of the municipal and regional elections of October 8 and 15, 2023. Expenditure amounting to EUR 6.820.000, including VAT. Contractor: SingularLogic.
- September 27: Direct award of a contract for the procurement of furniture for the Ministry of Interior for the needs of the two rounds of the upcoming regional and municipal elections. Amount of expenditure: EUR 7.192, including VAT. Contractor: Angelos G. Mathioudakis OE.
There are more
Several direct awards for the Local Government Elections are still pending. Significant funds of at least 500,000 euros have already been approved and are still awaiting… contractors in the coming days. Indicatively:
- 19,840 euros for the supply of 20 laptops
- EUR 37,124 for the supply of toners and document shredders
- EUR 29,140 for toner and ink
- EUR 28,520 for repair work at the Ministry of the Interior
- EUR 8,680 for repair parts
- EUR 49,452 for the provision of services with the issue of a payment order at the Ministry of the Interior on September 19, 2023, for the supply of 120,000 electoral bags, the contractor, and the expenditure of EUR 89,280
- EUR 150,283 for the purchase of goods with the issuance of a payment order to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office, the Athens Court of First Instance, etc.
- EUR 13,000 for photocopying paper, etc.
The amendment for the EUR 77 million “fixed” amount
A special amendment of the Ministry of Finance to the draft law of the Ministry of Interior, submitted on April 10, 2023, increases the amounts of compensation to those who work to 77 million euros for each election, as stated in Article 3 for the “Granting of special election compensation – Amendment par. 1, Article 131, Article 131 of Law 96/2007′:
“1. To the officials and employees of the Ministries of Interior, Justice, Citizen Protection, Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, the National Printing House, the Office of the State Legal Adviser Ministry of Interior, General Secretariat of Public Administration Information Systems of the Ministry of Digital Governance, General Secretariat of Information and Communication, General Secretariat of Social Insurance, the former EBRD, the Decentralized Administrations, the Regions and the municipalities, as well as the appellants of representatives of judicial authorities, the representatives of a judicial authority and the secretaries and interpreters of the electoral committees, who are demonstrably employed for the preparation and conduct of parliamentary, municipal and regional elections and the European elections, as well as any other event of popular vote, gathering, and issuing the relevant results, shall be granted a special electoral allowance, subject to the legal deductions and income tax, the amount and method of payment of which shall be determined by a joint decision of the Ministers of Interior and Finance. The same decision also specifies the number of senior officials and employees employed each time. The total expenditure each time, with the exception of officials of the Ministry of Citizen Protection, Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, may not exceed the amount of sixty-two million (62,000,000) euros and the total expenditure for officials of the Ministries of Citizen Protection, Climate Crisis and Civil Protection may not exceed the amount of fifteen million (15,000,000) euros.”
In the 2019 elections, the maximum foreseen cost for the payment of electoral allowances to all but police officers was €50 million, while the funds for the payment of allowances to police officers and civil protection officials amounted to €10 million.
The electoral law on direct awards
Article 130 of the 2007 Electoral Law provides for the following for the procurement of electoral goods and direct contracts:
- For the preparation and conduct of the elections of the National Representation, including the rapid collection, publication, and transmission of the results, the supply of machinery for the finalization and printing of the electoral rolls, the necessary books, forms, stamps, stationery, and all other material is made by decisions of the Minister of Interior. Similar decisions may specify:
- a) The performance of any printing or other work,
- b) the hiring of any means of transport necessary for the movement of staff or the transport of material,
- c) the use of workers and all types of technical and labor services
- d) the performance of any work or expenditure in furtherance of the purposes referred to in the first subparagraph of this paragraph, including the enlightenment and information of Greek and Community voters on the procedure for the exercise of their electoral rights by means of the mass media (television, radio, newspapers, etc.). This provision has been in force since February 21, 1994.
- e) The development, implementation, and maintenance of the special application of article 4 of Law No. 4648/2019 (A΄ 205), as well as the development, implementation, and maintenance of the applications provided for in the same law.
- All general supplies, works, transfers, and leases, referred to in the previous paragraph, are made by direct award and written agreement, notwithstanding the provisions on public accounting and public procurement, as defined by the decisions of paragraph 1. The rentals of transport vehicles for the transportation of individuals or the transfer of electoral material are activated by derogation from the provisions of Law No. 2396/1953 (Government Gazette A΄ 117) and decisions issued by the Prime Minister or the Minister authorized by him. The decisions of paragraph 1 also specify the required documents for each payment.