Transparency in coming general election

With the announcement of the National Elections on 19 September, Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) continues to promote reforms to our political processes to improve transparency and integrity in the electoral process.

Money in Politics

Questions raised about the New Zealand First Foundation are keeping the topic of campaign finance at the forefront of the news cycle.

“Transparency International New Zealand has been raising the red flag about political party funding for over 16 years,” says Suzanne Snively, Chair, Transparency International New Zealand. "We raised it in our 2003 National Integrity Systems Assessment and our Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment strongly recommended a complete review of the funding of political parties and candidates’ campaigns.”

Transparency International (TI) focussed on the role of money in politics globally by making it a major issue when releasing the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index.

"Governments must urgently address the corrupting role of big money in political party financing and the undue influence it exerts on our political systems" says Delia Ferreira Rubio - Chair Transparency International.

Keeping big money out of politics is essential to ensure political decision-making serves the public interest and curbs opportunities for corrupt deals. TI’s research highlights the relationship between politics, money and corruption. Unregulated flows of big money in politics also make public policy vulnerable to undue influence.

Avoid Mind Hacking

TINZ will be paying particular attention to political integrity in electioneering through media, particularly social media. A key challenge is to prevent or neutralise the cynical manipulation of the democratic space that has been seen overseas?

After investigations into Cambridge Analytica's use of personal information, the UK Information Commissioner recommended:

  • that political parties work with the appropriate authorities to improve transparency around the use of data, that all the parties have the right to have and use (e.g. the electoral register)
  • that online platforms providing advertising services to political parties and campaigns, have expertise within their sales support teams to provide advice on transparency and accountability in relation to how data is used to target users, and
  • that the government should require the Information Commissioner to create a statutory Code of Practice about the use of personal data in political campaigns.

Past Elections

For the 2017 General Election, TINZ surveyed the largest ten political parties. Six key questions were addressed to each party on issues of transparency, anti-corruption and protection for whistleblowers.

TINZ's aim was to examine their understanding of anti-corruption issues and their ideas about addressing them. Each party's response was published verbatim. See Transparency Questionnaire 2017 General Election: Party Responses.

In last year's local body elections, TINZ publicised Local Body Elections: Questions for Candidates. This set of questions focussed around integrity, transparency and accountability, including encouraging broader community participation in decision-making. The questions were well received, yet often surprising to local candidates who tend to focus on issues and are unused to questions about how they will govern all their constituents if elected.

2020 General Election plans

TINZ's general plans for the 2020 General Election cycle are sketched out below:

  • Creation of forums throughout the country, focussed on transparency and integrity. Please contact us if you are involved in an organisation or community that is interested in teaming with TINZ to produce an event.
  • Distribution of a set of questions similar to those done in 2014, 2017 and 2019.
  • Promotion of knowledge, ideas and anti-corruption tools to inform voters to discern honest and legitimate information and sources of information, and not be swayed by inflammatory headlines and false narratives.

Watch this space and offer your assistance

TINZ will be actively reporting on this election through its anti-corruption lens. Please contact the CEO and editors with questions, suggestions and offers to assist as we go through this process.

Links

Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment

Building Accountability: National Integrity System Assessment 2018 Update

2017 General Election party survey with responses

Elections 2019 – raising questions on integrity

Local Body Elections: Questions on Integrity

Transparency of Political Party Funding Essential

Money in Politics

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