Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

The elections are nigh!


Aotearoa New Zealand goes to the polls on the 23rd of September this year to elect our 52nd Parliament. Up until today, it has been difficult to see any sign of the upcoming event apart from the occasional news item and advertisement reminding us that we must be enrolled in order to vote.

However today the campaign begins in earnest as this is the first day on which candidates are permitted to put up election hoardings (billboards), which can be up to 3 square metres (32 square feet) in size.

Election campaigns here are quite different from the spectacle we see on our television screens regarding the American elections. Even from 14,000 Km away, we find the US elections over the top and tiring. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in the midst of it. Thankfully, ours are short and sharp and we find the two months of campaigning more than enough.

One reason that our elections are quieter is that there are very strict controls on how much candidates and political parties are permitted to spend. From today up until the day before polling day spending is restricted to:

  • $26,200 for an electorate candidate
  • $1,115,000 for a registered political party plus $26,200 per electorate contested by the party
  • $12,600 for an unregistered third party promoter
  • $315,000 for a registered third party promoter

That covers all forms of spending: hoardings, newspapers, radio, television, pamphlets, rallies – in fact every expense related to the election campaign. And thankfully, all advertising must stop by the end of the day before election day.

Although most parties have determined who will stand for which electorate, and have sorted out their party lists, official nominations don’t open until the 24th of August and close on the 29th of the same month, so I’ll wait until then before starting my own selection process for my preferred candidate and party. And unlike in many parts of the world, we get two votes: one for the electorate candidate, and one for the party vote. (an electorate is an area containing approximately 60,000 people, plus or minus 5%. The total number of seats each party gets in the Parliament is determined by their share of the party vote nationwide.)

Best of all, radio and television advertising can’t commence until the 23rd of August, so if you can’t avoid listening to commercial stations, you’ll only have to put up with it for a month max. Thank goodness!

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

4 thoughts on “The elections are nigh!

  1. Quieter than ours in Britain, too, though ours last six weeks. I find the thought of an election lasting over a year appalling. The Georgia special election for a member of their lower house: there were opinion polls in December, the first round in April, the runoff two months later, and $50m spent. They are always electing someone.

    • $50 million for one seat? In our 2014 elections, the entire spending by 18 political parties for all 120 seats in the Parliament plus spending by third party promoters amounted to less than NZ$9 million!

  2. One of the reasons why there’s so much spending in US elections is because money is treated as political speech for the purposes of regulating campaigns. The First Amendment protects political speech, so there can’t be as many restrictions on political campaign spending as in other countries.

    Personally I’d like to see some sort of finance restrictions like you have in NZ. Absent an amendment to our Constitution, I don’t see it happening.

    • There’s a difference between free speech (being free to express oneself) and being free to out advertise others because of wealth. Effectively those with less money are not as “free” as the wealthy to get their message across.

      What is significant is that if all 19 parties had spent to their maximum limit, the combined spending would have been a little over $27 million, whereas a little less than $9 was actually spent. In some cases the parties couldn’t raise the funds necessary to reach their spending limits, but in the case of the major parties, they seem to have felt they didn’t need to max out their budget.

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