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The Conservative Party was originally invited in November, but the invitation was withdrawn on Friday.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