Written By: - Date published: 8:39 am, February 12th, 2014 - 91 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, democratic participation, political alternatives, Politics - Tags: electoral finance, Electoral Finance Act, internet party, kim dotcom, polity
The original of this post is here at Polity.
As readers will know, Kim Dotcom has promised to wind up his party if it isn’t polling 5% by the time the ballots are printed, and then throw his (considerable) resources behind another party of his choosing. He tweets:
If #InternetParty won’t poll 5+% before ballot papers are printed we’ll self destruct & put our weight behind a party adopting our policies.
I think it is almost certain that the Internet Party will not be polling 5% at any point this year. The party’s figurehead cannot legally run for anything, they will have no TV presence, and no debate presence, either. Further, the party’s policy offerings are “thin” to say the least, not covering the issues that the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders say they care most about. Together with a crowded field in a close contest, all this spells near certain failure. (The TV3 revelation that one in five people said they would “consider” voting for the Internet Party – when specifically pushed on the subject – does nothing to change my mind on this.)
If I am right about that, then come ballot-printing day Mr Dotcom will be throwing his weight in with someone else. And by “his weight,” I presume he means large buckets of money. That sets up an silent auction for parties to compete for Dotcom’s money on the basis of policy promises, first and foremost about Dotcom’s own extradition case. That is, if parties decide they want to play.
I think the opposition parties should all take a pass.
To me, it all sounds pretty icky. One of the reasons the left parties worked hard to try and make election funding fairer in the late 2000s was to limit the influence of individuals seeking to essentially buy government policy for cash. (These measures were, naturally, rejected by the right, citing freedom of speech and freedom of spending and so on.) Breaking it down, this gambit looks exactly like a convluted version of a rich guy offering up cash in exchange for personally favourable policies. Yuck.
We’re now in this odd position where left parties that actively compete in the policy space for Dotcom’s affections will be hypocrites and, by the same token, many of the right wingers who would cry foul about that will be hypocrites, too.