Being in NZ for close to a week now, I can proudly say that I’m backing Bill (thankfully their Bill is nothing like ours). My campaign journey here started with a literal bang, on the flight into Wellington. Apparently rough landings at Wellington are normal, however this didn’t stop me from fearing for dear life, and didn’t act as an indicator for how my EDO experience would play out.
My first day of campaigning, literally spanned a full 24 hours, which included human hoarding (sign waving), letterboxing, and street stalls. I was a bit sceptical about the idea of campaigning for a full day, but there’s something surprisingly pleasant about letterboxing in Lower Hutt at 2:15am. It was great to start campaigning here by helping out a number of MP’s and candidates, including Nicola Willis, Chris Bishop and Brett Hudson. Even after the 24 hour campaign day, I’ve found myself campaigning for all of these great candidates, who have a strong message of continuing to provide the leadership that only a strong Centre-Right government provide.
I would come to quickly learn that the eagerness of Young Nats to campaign in part spawns from the Mixed-Member Proportional Representation voting system in NZ.
In NZ, when individuals vote they cast one vote for their local MP and one vote for the Party of their choice. Though the normal MP vote would work as you would expect, the party vote allows for a set number of ‘list MP’s’ to be elected into Parliament, based on the amount of Party votes a specific party receives. Because of the Party Vote, every vote regardless of where it is cast matters, and usually determines which party has the right to govern.
This has meant that I have found myself campaigning heavily in strong Labour seats, as the Nationals need to retain a strong party vote across the board, and cannot rely on strong National seats alone. However, due to the electoral rules here, there are some forms of campaigning which are unheard of here, but are common at home.
The most significant of these is Pre-Poll and Election Day booth manning. In NZ, it is illegal to campaign within 10 meters of a polling booth, and frankly no party campaigns anywhere near one. Even today, there something weird about passing a Pre-Poll location, and not seeing anybody handing out, or even a party poster in sight. The weirdness doesn’t stop there, on Election Day, the booths here remain unmanned by any party, and instead party officials scrutineer to make sure that individuals have voted.
Regardless of all of this, I have found that we as Liberals can learn a lot from how the National Party, and in particular the Young Nats campaign. The overarching enthusiasm for campaigning in the Young Nats, is quite refreshing to witness. The Young Nat leadership have done an amazing job in energising the base, to see the value in campaigning, and feel rewarded for their efforts. I hope that this experience can help me to adapt this energy into campaigning across the Young Liberal Movement, and specifically in my home state of NSW.
David Nouri is a member of the NSW Young Liberals