Election Manifestos

I ended my last blog looking forward to the manifestos from the parties contesting the NZ general election. Apparently I will be waiting a long time! The parties in New Zealand have not in the past, and will not this time, be issuing manifestos!

The Green party and New Zealand First have pages on their websites that look like manifestos; without any commitment not to change them, or even a date on which these were their policies.

The Labour party web page contains this caveat “More policy to be announced as we get closer to the election.” The National party web page contains this caveat “This page will be updated throughout the campaign as we announce new policies.”

This leaves voters having to work out for themselves what each party’s policies actually are; from their speeches, websites, blogs, interviews, tweets, and any other social media.

Does it matter, given that the UK elector who reads even one manifesto is a very rare creature indeed? I think it does in the UK. In the UK (First Past the Post), electors can refer back to the manifesto and a government which was elected with a majority can be held to that. In New Zealand (MMP), a one party majority is almost inconceivable, and each governments policies are the result of negotiation after the election results are in.

This NZ election campaign has become a giant “lolly scramble”, as no politician expects to be held to account for all the promises they make. Maybe we all head down the rabbit hole during any election campaign?