‘Time to bin election posters and engage directly with voters’ – Kilkenny Councillor
BANNING election posters is not enough – election campaigning also needs to radically change, Kilkenny Councillor Malcolm Noonan said today.
Cllr Noonan has already pledged not to erect posters for the local elections in May.
But the Green Party City Councillor, who is also his party’s Local Government spokesperson, said that while he is “happy and relieved not to have to climb poles” to put up posters this time round, he believes the nature of campaigning also needs to change radically.
Cllr Noonan told KilkennyNow.ie: “I think given the scale of challenges that are before us, it’s important that those of us putting ourselves forward for election need to move electoral spending away from superficial branding towards actual engagement with voters on issues and how we propose to address them.”
Cllr Noonan said that while he was happy to support a local ban on posters for environmental as well as visual reasons, he is also proposing that local authorities assign designated sites on the periphery of larger urban centres to allow candidates to display posters and a site within a town centre where election print material could be displayed.
“This is commonplace throughout Europe; it greatly reduces the perceived need to print hundreds of posters, it creates a level playing field for all candidates and most importantly it is better for the environment,” he said.
Cllr Noonan said reducing electoral spend will also save the exchequer as many candidates can claim back the spend following an election.
“The Green Party will be proposing this initiative through legislation for all elections and referendums,” he added.
Cllr Noonan believes cutting spending on “superficial forms of election campaigning” will allow candidates more time to actively engage with voters on real issues of importance to them via social media, use of web material, video and using properly researched policies.
“It concerns me greatly that the correlation between electoral spend on posters and branding and votes is not good for democracy; analysis of the last general election found a worrying trend where the more money spent correlated with increased votes. Political representation at local and national level is not reflective or representative of the diversity within our population because our politics favours the elites. This cycle must be broken,” he said.
“’Housing and homelessness, climate change, environmental degradation, the future of our town centres, rural development, are all huge challenges in Ireland and elsewhere. How we as candidates propose to engage on these issues with the electorate is of far more importance than having our mugs on every pole on the ring road.
“It is my hope that all candidates will support campaign groups calls for a ban on posters locally but equally I would like to see a level playing field for new candidates and meaningful engagement on issues and policies in this upcoming and indeed future campaigns,” Cllr Noonan added.