By Mirette Magdy, Aswat Masriya
The presidential campaign for leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi has spent much less than 100 thousand Egyptian pounds, Madeeha Zaki, campaign director, told Aswat Masriya on Tuesday.
“The funds in the campaign’s bank account did not exceed 200 Egypt pounds so far, as the campaign has not received any donations from businessmen,” Zaki explained.
In contrast, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s campaign has spent 12 million Egyptian pounds until now, according to Tarek Nour, the campaign’s coordinator and chief advisor.
“We had to turn down many offers to run the campaign by advertising companies due to financial reasons,” Zaki said, adding that she herself did not take any fees and is only a volunteer.
There is only one television advertisement for Sabahi that is scheduled to be aired on several satellite channels by Wednesday or Thursday, according to Zaki. The advertisement is a donation by someone who requested his identity not to be revealed.
“The donor is not a businessman. He informed us that he booked an advertising space for the campaign on several satellite channels. Funding the production of the advertisement was through self-efforts by volunteers.”
The campaign prefers to spend any donations it receives on popular press conferences where Sabahi can address Egypt’s poor and marginalized, the campaign director said, pointing out that a conference costs around 1,000 pounds and is organised through modest efforts.
“Volunteers designed the posters for the campaign and put them on its website to be printed. The campaign did not pay for any of the posters,” Zaki said.
“Renting a billboard on the October 6 bridge would cost 170 thousand Egyptian pounds, according to the cheapest offer we received. The price does not include taxes.”
She said that the prices for campaigning this year are less compared to last year’s presidential election, where Sabahi came in third.
Zaki was surprised by the announced estimates for Sisi’s campaign, “I have been working in the field of advertising for years… through my experience I reckon that it has spent more than the 12 million Egyptian pounds.”
From his side, Sisi’s campaign manager told Aswat Masriya that “most companies would cut the advertisement prices when they learn that it is for Sisi.”
Nour, who owns the largest advertising agency in Egypt, said that Sisi has asked for a minimum spending on his campaign, adding, “We only rented 30 billboards across Egypt, the rest are complimentary contributions by supporters of Sisi that we have no control over”
The spending limit set by the new election law rose up to 20 million Egyptian pounds for each candidate and five million in the case of runoffs, it was set at 10 million Egyptian pounds in the 2012 elections and two million for the second round.
The limit is the maximum amount that a political party or a candidate can spend during the electoral campaign period.