Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:
The Green Party has lobbied the television networks to take part in prime-time televised leaders’ debates during the election campaign alongside Labour’s David Cunliffe and Prime Minister John Key rather than being lumped in with the minor parties.
I’m all for Labour and Greens taking turns at being the Leader who goes up against Key, but the reality is these debates are about showcasing the two people who may be Prime Minister after the election.
Andrew Campbell, the Green’s communications director, confirmed it had put in a formal request to both networks to debate National and Labour rather than the smaller parties because it was in a much stronger position in the polls.
“It seems ridiculous to put a party with a genuine strong support base, a significant portion of the electorate, in the same debate as people who can’t even win their own seat without the help of another party. Why would we debate a person who can’t even win it’s own seat without help?”
Why would a party on 51% debate a party on 8%, using the Green’s own logic?
I do understand where they are coming from to a degree – that they and NZ First are medium sized parties compared to some of the “minnows”. Maybe the solution is to just have a medium sized leaders debate between a Green co-leader and Winston. That would be entertaining.
National’s campaign chair Steven Joyce said National wanted to keep the one-on-one debates but that did not necessarily mean Russel Norman would miss out. “We will be very happy to debate with the leader of the largest Opposition party at the time. You never know, maybe the Greens will get there. They’re not that far behind.”
They’re a fair way behind now, as Labour’s campaign strategy appears to be to take votes of the Green at the same rate as they lose centrist voters to National.