People in the dark over parties

Editorial

WITH the focus on the coronavirus at the moment, let us not forget one event that is coming up – the 2022 National General Election.
Every five years since 1977, PNG has had general elections and this period has been among the most anticipated events on the national calendar – for obvious reasons.
While not a perfect system, the electoral process has delivered adequately enough on its main objective which is to give the nation its leaders for the Westminster style of parliamentary democracy adopted during Independence.
There have been eight general elections so far with 2017 being the ninth edition.
Although the state has not tinkered too much with the system over the years, there have been some major changes to how the elections are conducted.
One of those big changes took place prior to the last elections (2012) with the introduction of the limited preferential voting system.
While there was some resistance to this change initially, many, if not all voters now see this as an improvement on the first-past-the-post system that had been used since the late 1970s.
But the electoral process in this country is far from being perfect.
The process of refining it will continue over the coming years and the PNG Electoral Commission will no doubt play a significant role in enabling that.
There were some areas that could be looked into in order to achieve certain aims.
The proposed increase in the nomination fee from K1,000 to K10,000 was a massive hike to say the least, with the justification being that it would have sorted out the so-called serious candidates from the fly-by-nighters; it would have drastically reduced the number of candidates for each electorate (who could afford K10,000 to nominate?) and, thus, help lessen the workload for the Electoral Commission (EC).
Another change that could be looked at for future elections is for the political parties to have websites in order to better disseminate their policies to the public, especially those in the urban areas.
Some might say, that since the majority of the voting population are in the rural areas, it would not be practical but the point here is that of adding to the accessibility by a party and how it can set about its agenda on a platform that allows more people to access and read what they stand for.
That makes having a website (regularly updated, of course) not just convenient but an invaluable tool.
Social media also comes into the frame with parties must also have Facebook pages as some MPs and political parties already do.
These sites can provide useful information about the party, who they are nominating,what their policies are and what their philosophy is and where they stand on issues of national importance.
Do we have to go to a rally or a dinner to find out about a party?
Why not just put the information on a website?
One of the biggest problems authorities faced in an election season is the instances of violence in electorates.
There have been election fatalities recorded out of the actual polling period.
The campaign period should be shortened if parties have website.
This would allow less time for the “silly season” to kick in.
If the campaign period in most other western countries is two to three weeks, then why can’t it be the same here in PNG?
It just means the EC has to be more efficient come the 2022 National General Election.

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