Navigating the Election Policy Maze

Brenda Pilott
National Manager Brenda photo
Social Service Providers Aotearoa

In case you hadn’t noticed, but there’s an election at the end of September.  Recent events have placed a strong spotlight on the leadership of our parties and there’s no question the leaders are a critical factor in the calculation we all make about where to place our party vote tick.

But arguably, there’s an even more important factor and that’s the policy platform each party stands on.  It’s not the sexy side of politics (unless you’re a hardcore pointy-head politico) but the good news is that there are plenty of folk that have put some thought and some technology into helping us all find our way through the policy maze.  Some have used gamification approaches, which won’t be to everyone’s taste, but does at least make things lively.

Top of my list is The Spinoff’s very impressive Policy tool http://policy.thespinoff.co.nz/.  It has serious intent but is fun to use, and allows voters to drill down as far as they want into the policy detail and to easily do some comparison-shopping between the parties.

Massey University has produced On The Fence  http://www.onthefence.co.nz/ which intends to help voters work out where they sit on key policy choices and to suggest which party is  most closely aligned.

On similar lines, I Side With, an international site with a NZ variant (don’t forget to click the button for the NZ setting) treats political questions like a quiz and spits out a result that says who you’re closest to politically.   https://www.isidewith.com/political-quiz

TV One is bringing back its Vote Compass which debuted in 2014.  It’s not online at time of writing but presumably isn’t far away.

A lot of sector groups are providing policy comparisons in their area and often in response to an agenda they themselves have laid out.  These are very worthwhile checking out as you’ll get expert commentary and analysis in many cases.

The parties themselves are taking a more prosaic approach, with published policy statements on their websites, supported in varying degrees by social media ventures and paid advertising.  An honourable mention should go to The Opportunities Party for strong efforts to make their policies accessible, including a set of no-fuss one-minute videos.

The political parties are all working hard to make sure their policies are visible to voters.  If we want our politics to go beyond personality and beyond the billboard slogans, we need to make an effort to find out what their plans are.  It’s great that we’ve got some interesting and fun ways to do that.

This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network

ComVoices actively promotes the value that community sector organisations and their people, both paid and unpaid, add to New Zealand’s economic and social wellbeing through information, and political advocacy and dialogue.

Click here for our website:  http://comvoices.org.nz/