Kim Dotcom made a trip to Rotorua on the weekend to speak at the Mana Party AGM. Following this there were internal party discussions in the Mana Party about moving forward with the alliance between the Internet Party and Mana that has been discussed lately. The decision to move forward with this has resulted in a few ructions within the party, with Sue Bradford and Hone’s wife, among others, expressing reservations about the link up.
This morning Radio New Zealand’s website carried a story, that was tweeted by The Internet Party, talking about how the Internet Party is planning on using a Wikipedia style system to create it’s policy. This is an interesting approach. It seems to be a much wider ranging, directly interactive, version of how Labour went about formulating their Open Government Policy before the last election.
I like the idea of letting party members have a direct say in party policy. I think this is much easier in a smaller party, like the Internet Party or the Greens, than National or Labour. This is party related to the fact that most minor parties fringe policies are pretty unlikely to be implemented in any government. It will be interesting to see exactly how they go about running this policy formulation process. I do have to wonder how long it will take them to get it all done.
However, a couple of things do make me wonder about how membership driven the whole process will be. The same Radio New Zealand story included this quote form Kim Dotcom:
As well as revealing the way the party would write policy, the internet businessman told the gathering candidates would be selected by members voting in an open audition process.
Which to me is at odds with the party constitution on their website, that reads:
12.4.7. Having regard to the ranked lists provided by members, the Executive Committee will produce a “Final Party List” at its sole discretion that will constitute the final Party List.
12.6 Once the Party List has been finalised, the Executive Committee may ask candidates on the Party List to stand in electorates as Electorate candidates.
12.7 Which electorates candidates are asked to stand in is at the discretion of the Executive Committee.
So Kim is claiming that the members will have a direct say in the selection of candidates, but his party’s constitution has rules that give the power to the executive. Is this going to be the same for the policy creation as well?
The Internet Party are going to be the party in the vanguard of the push into direct member involvement in the finer points of policy creation. Though, if they are going to claim to be allowing the members to be involved, then having the executive override the wishes of the membership, I suspect that will do more damage to the perception voters, and the 800,000 non voters, have of political parties and their willingness to have meaningful engagement.
I hope they do let their members have a decent say in the formulation of policy. Of course there is a place for the executive to fine tune and tidy up policy ideas. But that process should be documented before hand and done in an open and upfront manner.
“Wikipolicy” is one area of politics and social media I am looking forward to seeing in action this election. Hopefully it goes well and more parties take it seriously as an option.