Caption: Dr David Ayres.
By MATTHEW VARI
THE electoral system was described as being one that often works against the notion of having effective public policies.
Deputy Director for the National Research Institute (NRI), Dr David Ayres, made the comments when referring to the lack of knowledge on the larger national goals and policies and political parties attach to their intending candidates when they contest national elections.
He said this during the first round of presentation of political party policies being presented by Pangu Pati (Party) on Tuesday at the NRI Conference Center.
Dr Ayres referred to the current political party system as being fragmented- leaving a greater chance of duplication in policies that the voting population cannot differentiate from, leaving candidates to focus on localizing their campaign to the immediate needs and concerns in the contested area.
“I am sure many of those forty parties have very similar platforms. One of the challenges in terms of public policy is trying to discern the differences between the different parties,” Dr Ayres said.
“The second challenge is that candidates before the elections have a very much local focus. So during the electoral process the candidates are out in their electorates and they are promising things like schools and roads in the same way that politicians do right throughout the world, but their focus very much is a local focus.
“The challenge is that once they are elected and the government forms they have to take that local hat off and put on a national hat.
“That is particularly challenging for many politicians whose focus has been very much a local focus throughout their careers.”
This then leaves out issues of national collective concern, with voters not understanding of what parties truly stands for on the national issues that matter.
“Issues such as debt management, where they stand on the Bougainville referendum, remembering that the parliament that we are going to elect in the coming election is the parliament that is going to make a decision on Bougainville,” he said.
“Where do they stand on rural service delivery and foreign policy? These are all national significance that we often don’t hear about during an election campaign because the focus is on what’s happening locally.
“Part of our motivation for these series of presentations is to provide the parties with the opportunity to be able to talk about national issues so we are certainly sure that candidates focus on local issues and parties to present national issues.”