Election shouldn’t hinge on TV debate

If the outcome of the election hinges on a televised debate between any or all of the party leaders then democracy in New Zealand is in a sorry state.

If we can’t work out what we believe in, what the parties stand for, what they’re promising and how that matches our own philosophy without watching eight of them shouting at and over each other for 60 minutes, minus numerous advertising breaks, then we’re the ones at fault.

It’s not Helen Clark and John Key who have declined to debate the wee partys’ leaders, nor TV3 which has decided not to bother with a debate between the wee partys’ leaders, it’s us.

We’re the ones who’ve got the right to vote and we also have the responsibility to exercise it intelligently. If we’re going to do that a TV debate won’t make any difference. And if we’re not going to vote intelligently there are plenty of other ways open to us to work out who to vote for or against, if we bother to vote at all.

Not convinced? TV3’s news and current affairs director Mark Jennings says these aren’t big rating events. That means that most of us make up our decisions independent of televised debates and chances are the majority of those who tune in are political junkies who will only have their biases confirmed anyway.

The fuss about it is nothing more than a political storm in a tea cup of free publicity.

But if there are a few lost souls out there unable to work out who should govern us for the next three years without the assistance of a TV debate, I’d be happy to help them – nothing I could say would be any less intelligent than a leaders’ shouting match.

One Response to Election shouldn’t hinge on TV debate

  1. Mr Dennis says:

    True. The issue is however that the big parties are getting more publicity simply for being big, regardless of whether their policies are any good. This is antidemocratic. Sure more people voted for them last election, so they seem to have more public support, but in many cases that is because people have voted for them for years and rarely change, or just pick between the two and are unaware of what is on offer from minor parties.

    Each of course has core supporters who are informed and believe they have the best policies, but many voters just never consider anyone except National and Labour. The election outcome is decided by uninformed voters. This frustrating situation is perpetuated by head-to-head debates.

    I would prefer to see each party given the same amount of time to present their views, with policies considered side by side on their merits, rather than some parties given more time just because they have a traditional voter base.


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