Incumbent favouritism in first election debate

Favouritism for incumbent parties is a feature of the first election year debate, with parties that haven’t been in Parliament excluded. The Mana Party makes the cut due to having been in the privileged party club before Hone Harawira lost his electorate in 2014.

NZ Herald: The Conservative Party says exclusion from political debate ‘unfair’

The Conservative Party says it is miffed about being kicked off the lineup for the first political debate of election year.

The University of Auckland Debating Society is hosting the debate on Thursday, and representatives from National, Labour, Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori Party, United Future and Mana will take part.

The Conservative Party was originally invited in November, but the invitation was withdrawn on Friday.

The society’s president Callum Lo said the organisation did not expect so many parties to respond, and it had decided to limit participatation to parties which were in, or had been, in Parliament.

That meant there was no room for the Conservatives or The Opportunities Party.

That’s a bit stink. It’s hard enough getting a new party going with the ridiculously high MMP threshold of 5% being a very high hurdle.

Non Parliamentary parties don’t have the free travel and accommodation, support staff and name recognition advantages that incumbent parties have.

And the media make it very difficult for them to get exposure when they continue to be biased against newcomers.

Baker said his party’s exclusion was “a wee bit unjust” given the Conservatives had polled fifth-highest in the last election, and higher than four other parties being represented at the debate.

The Conservatives got 3.97% of the party vote in 2014, more than the Maori Party, ACT, United Future and Internet Mana combined.

Sure they will struggle to get anywhere near the sane result this year without Colin Craig’s money but it shouldn’t be for organisers to filter parties from debate exposure.

And it is a kick in the teeth to be invited well in advance and then dumped a week before the debate.

“The lineup had become quite bloated,” Lo said. “We had 11 or 12 people and for an hour and a half debate we were looking at only around eight minutes per person.”

So they choose format convenience over democratic fairness.

This is common incumbence favouritism.

Leave a comment


  1. Kitty Catkin

     /  5th March 2017

    It’s common sense. These parties have about as much chance of getting in as my dog has standing for the Free Treats for All Dogs Party.

    • And if they keep excluding them that will remain the case.

      Media and debate organisers keep giving huge advantages to incumbent parties, especially the larger parties, who already have huge advantages through the taxpayer funded resources and expense allowances.

      And the big party club does what they can to disadvantage new parties through the disgraceful threshold being kept high.

      • Chuck Bird

         /  5th March 2017

        Pete, having the threshold at 5% is a different issue. There are arguments both was on the issue. However, while the bar is 5% it is pointless allowing parties that have no show of getting in Parliament should not be invites to was time. The Conservative Party and a few others have no more chance of getting in Parliament as Penny Bright.

        I do not agree with the scam National does to get extra seats with ACT and UF but it is what it is so it is fair enough to invite them as there is a reasonable chance they will be returned. In the case of ACT they could have an extra MP.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  6th March 2017

        The Conseratives have had a lot of free publicity !!!

    • patupaiarehe

       /  5th March 2017

      If it’s any consolation Kitty, I’d rather vote for your dog, than the conservatives 😀

  2. patupaiarehe

     /  5th March 2017

    It’s hardly ‘incumbent favouritism’, that keeps the conservatives out of parliament. How they ever hoped to get there with ‘Creepy Colin’ at the helm, is beyond my understanding. As is how they intend to get in this year….

  3. I think it is undemocratic to exclude parties from the debate in a MMP environment. The arrogance of the two main parties in an apparent claim to have a monopoly of the truth does not sit well with me. New approaches and ideas have to be fostered under MMP lest the benefits of a MMP environment will be lost. The time factor would be a constraint, but they should consider having a number of short sharp smaller events covering all parties eventually. If this does not happen them we may as well revert to FPP, cause MMP is a fiction.

  4. High Flying Duck

     /  6th March 2017

    You have to draw the line somewhere though don’t you?
    There are a lot of single issue nutters and people who would only get votes from themselves in an election.
    Once you get over a certain number a debate becomes messy and no-one achieves anything.
    Didn’t TV1 try letting minor parties into debates and have to backtrack due to it becoming a shambles?


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