Winston Peters wants a fair go leading into the election and says it would be “anti-democratic” for any media to host leader debates without NZ First.
Peters, the anti-establishment politician, says not having his party represented in election campaign debates would be “blind political prejudice” or the media “deliberately” trying to protect National and Labour – the “establishment parties”.
He said in the past state-funded broadcasters, Radio New Zealand and TVNZ, had been “dominated” by National and Labour not to include other parties and had so far got away with it.
Normally you have two types of debates – the two person debates with the PM and Opposition Leader and the larger debates with pretty much the leader of every party that has a reasonable chance of making Parliament. Last time the National and Labour leaders only took part in the former debates.
The more people involved in a debate is inversely proportional to the usefulness of the debate. You could make a case for including the leaders of the seven parties currently in Parliament plus TOP, Mana and the Conservatives. So ten leaders who in a 90 minutes debate would get around 400 seconds each.
But does Winston have a point that Andrew Little should not be assumed to be the only alternative PM to Bill English? If Labour drop 5% more and Peters gains 5% more he will be aiming for the top job.
Maybe one way you could do it is have the PM debate anyone who scores over 5% as Preferred Prime Minister. That would currently mean a three way debate between Bill English, Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern!