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MMP supporters like ‘like’, while their opponents tend to ‘tweet’

Aug 10th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Article, News

SLOGAN TIME: Campaigners in support of MMP prepare posters for a demonstration.

IF you’re for keeping MMP, your social medium of choice is likely to be Facebook. Those against seem to Tweet.

That’s the shape of the opposing groups’ campaigns running up to this year’s General Election referendum on whether our voting system should be reviewed.

At the time of writing, Campaign for MMP had 2027 “likes” on Facebook, and 288 followers on Twitter, while Vote for Change’s Facebook page was “liked” by 609 followers, and its Twitter site had 1660 followers.

Campaign for MMP is a group dedicated to protecting the current electoral system, mixed member proportional, and updates its Facebook page daily.

The campaign is also employing traditional campaigning methods and has been busy making calico banners that are being dispersed across the country in the lead-up to the referendum.

A core group came together this time last year to organise the campaign, says convenor Sam Huggard.

He says the group has done a couple of leaflet print runs and is getting quotes on professional banners made from the same material as real estate signs.

Vote for Change spokesman Jordan Williams – whose group is campaigning for an alternative to MMP – says they are looking to use both social media and traditional methods.

He says it is inevitable there will be billboards, but social media is inexpensive and they are able to touch base with many more people. The group has been fundraising since last year.

Campaign for MMP has many core members who are heavily involved with the not-for-profit sector.

For example, treasurer Kevin Hackwell previously ran the Downtown Community Mission and has for a number of years been the advocacy manager for the NZ Forest and Bird Society.

Another example is Sam Huggard, a who lectures for Unitec Institute of Technology’s management diploma for people in the not-for-profit sector.

Other members include Dunedin writer and historian Dr Philip Temple, president of the Tertiary Education Union Dr Sandra Grey; and secretary Danna Glendinning, a former Alliance candidate and also a former Green Party list candidate.

While some of the group are involved with political parties, Mr Huggard insists that Campaign for MMP is not affiliated with any political parties and the group comes to the campaign “wearing their electoral reform hats”.

Many of the founding members of Vote for Change have well-reported links to the National Party, including Annabel Young, who is a former National MP.

In early July, the group gained some negative publicity when it was alleged one of its members, Alex Fogerty, was affiliated with a white supremacist group.

He later resigned.

Left-leaning founding member Bob Harvey, the former mayor of Waitakere City, resigned shortly after the allegation, saying he no longer wanted to be associated with the group.

Other current members include hotelier, property developer and Wellington businessman Christopher Parkin, the recently resigned head of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Ralph Norris, and former Labour cabinet minister and author of a number of political biographies, Michael Bassett.

Part 6 of the Electoral Referendum Act 2010 says registered promoters may not spend more than $300,000 on referendum expenses.

The Electoral Act also says registered promoters are also not allowed to advertise on polling day.

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is a Whitireia journalism student.
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