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Political campaigning in a Covid-19 world

Written By: - Date published: 10:52 am, March 23rd, 2020 - 15 comments
Categories: Dr Deborah Russell, election 2020, labour - Tags: ,

That hurricane that has decimated parts of China and Europe and is currently affecting most of the world appears to be ready to make landfall in Aotearoa New Zealand very soon. 

We have had a worrying number of new infections reported in the past couple of days.  The country may be very close to confirming its first known example of community spread.  I suspect that we will go to level 3 very quickly.

The pandemic has turned ordinary life upside down.  As a simple example political campaigning has been stymied.  Door knocking is not a welcome thing to do, markets are all set to be closed, and public meetings are definitely not a thing to do.  Clearly digital is what people will engage in.

As an example my local MP Deborah Russell is holding an online public meeting this evening to discuss climate change.  The facebook details are here.  In these Covid-19 days public meetings are going to be a thing of the past for quite a while. 

It may be the Government will have to contemplate moving the election.  Time will tell.

In the meantime look after your family and be kind to each other.

15 comments on “Political campaigning in a Covid-19 world ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    It highlights the digital divide – how many people will attend an online meeting who really need help and advice?

    The time has long since come to pass that the internet is now a human right in an advanced country like NZ – so much government business is conducted online, and only online for example – and the law needs to be updated to reflect this fact.

    I'd like the government to require all ISPs to provide free internet (well, the government will pay a small fee on behalf) to anyone who requests it who is on a benefit. Basically, your phone & PC should have free access to a whitelist – any .govt.nz website, and other selected sites like councils, etc.

    • Cricklewood 1.1

      Govt will have to step in asap orcon cut me off for late payment yesterday (oversite on my part and easily fixed) but as we isolate take school online we can't have providers cutting people off from what will be the sole form of communication for many.

  2. bill 2

    This shit isn't going away any time soon.

    I'd be saying that unless the general election is by postal ballot, then there will be no election this November.

    And what Sanctuary says above. (Though without the restrictions on site access)

    All of you people with next door neighbours and password protected internet access…ever reckoned it was time to dump the paranoia (OMG! Someone will download PORN!) and open up your access? (jist wondering)

  3. Sabine 3

    to be honest, who cares other then those that make a living out of politics?

  4. woodart 4

    no, bring it forward. have it electronically next month. bridges to go down with all hands. seymour to become official leader of opposition and STILL have caucus meetings in phone booth. haha.

  5. Ian 5

    When you consume dairy products have a think about where it comes from,the people you have demonised and your dirty politics.

  6. RedLogix 6

    There are two components to this crisis, the epidemic and the economic. The two are tightly linked, there is no point in defeating the virus if we are left with an economy in tatters.

    The virus will likely take 4 – 12 weeks to overcome, but the economic recovery, based on similarly devastating events like the ChCh earthquakes, will take up to 12 – 18 months to manage effectively. That takes us well beyond the last sitting day of 8th August the three month pre-election period starting after Parliament is dissolved on 20th Aug.

    It's my guess there will be a good case to delay the election for at least 6 months.

    • Sabine 6.1

      yep, all the people that loose their lively hood because they don't get bailed out by the government may not be inclined to vote for them. I can see that as an issue.

    • Blazer 6.2

      ', there is no point in defeating the virus if we are left with an economy in tatters. '

      So being dead is preferable ….very good.no

    • lprent 6.3

      There are three routes.

      If Parliament were not dissolved by October 12, it would expire. The Government could keep functioning, but without Parliament.

      Ardern and her Cabinet would still be in charge, they even have emergency powers to enable them to spend public money and make crucial decisions, but they would not be able to pass or change any laws.

      They'd also face no Parliamentary scrutiny during a time when key decisions were being made.

      Otago University Law Professor Andrew Geddis said the Government could also amend the Electoral Act with a bare majority to allow for a longer election period going into 2021, but this would also mean the country being left without a Parliament for a longer time.

      For this reason, allowing the Government to just drag on without Parliament is a long shot, and very unlikely to happen.

      If the election needs to be delayed even longer — a year, for example — the three year term law will need to be changed.

      As DS points out below shifting the date of the election past December 12th (he said 5th – but it can be done the weekend after) requires a supermajority of 75% in parliament.

      At the very least National would have to agree to it. So far this has happened once in our history – in the middle of the second world war. The main reason for agreement on it was because of the difficulty of getting votes from the numbers of soldiers overseas. It wasn't done in WW1 – probably due to the hope of a short war lasting too long.

      If the modified the constitution act, then perhaps that could do something sensible like making it a permanent 4 year term so we don't have the nearly continuous election campaigns bugging up infrastructural work.

      And the other one is that the electoral commission can delay repeatably on a short-term basis. But I don't think that would be likely for an additional 6 months.

      However December 12th is more than about 8 months away from now. By August we should have a better idea on if we're winning. It might be a shorter election campaign. But really the official election campaign is 6 weeks. It'd probably be nice to try that rather than the 12 months and heading towards 18 month election campaigns.

  7. DS 7

    Jacinda can reschedule as late as 5th December.

    If it turns out we need a delay beyond that, we need both Labour and National to sign off on it (technically 75% of Parliament, which amounts to the same thing).

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