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!