- Date published:
12:25 pm, June 1st, 2014 - 132 comments
Categories: campaigning, democratic participation, election 2014, election funding, internet party, Politics - Tags: kim dotcom, laila harre, polity
Kim Dotcom has shaken up the election with a claim his new Internet Party will have a $3 million war chest.
That pledge was revealed yesterday as the party confirmed its new leader was former Alliance leader Laila Harre.
Electoral records show Dotcom has already donated $250,000 to the Internet Party, which did a deal this week with Mana that could see it ride leader Hone Harawira’s coat-tails into Parliament.
The Internet Party founder told 3 News he was putting his money where his mouth was and putting up $3m for the election campaign.
That would give the new Internet-Mana alliance a war chest to rival its Right-wing opponents. National spent $2.7m in 2011 and was the biggest spender among the parties, followed by the Colin Craig-led Conservative Party.
The big questions are: is this kind of donation good for democracy, and are left-leaning campaigners hypocrites for accepting it?
On the first question, I think these donations are bad for democracy. I would rather New Zealand had partial public funding of democracy along with strict donation caps, at levels a long way below these. I know many others on the left, likely including Laila Harre, share similar views.
Having said that, I don’t get to make the rules. The rules allow these mega-donations (ha!), so are lefties like Laila Harre hyprocrites for accepting them?
There is a huge difference between “I think the rules should be X for everybody,” and “I’m going to do X even if nobody else does.” The difference is competitive fairness.
A politician’s job is to campaign within the rules as they stand. They owe it to their supporters to do everything legally in their power to win votes and influence, especially because their opponents are also doing everything within their power to achieve the opposite.
They owe no duty to provide their opponents with advantage by pre-emptively limit their own campaigns
Put it another way: Many in National oppose any state funding for election campaigns. Are we going to call them all hypocrites for accepting state funded TV time in September? Again, no.