The Internet Party's crowdsourced policy-making process: where the buck stops
Crowdsourced policy is cool and happening - but at some point it's got to be decided which ideas stay, or go. A popular vote among party members can be used to decide final policy, or an inner cabal. The Internet Party is going to go with the latter - at least for this election cycle.
Party founder Kim Dotcom has offered only headline slogans for policy so far.
CEO Vikram Kumar says this is all part of the plan.
A new kind of politics will see the visionary/opportunist/clown (pick your title) Kim Dotcom and others throw up ideas. Party members, and guest experts, will then help shape the idea into policy. A wiki, or website with collaborative articles, will be part of the process. Anyone will be able to offer edits.
It's high-minded, and an interesting approach. And one worth digging into a little, given the Internet Party's potentially decisive influence on this year's election.
"Internet Party members will be invited to participate in two parallel processes - discussions to take the party's Action Agenda to detailed policy and, separately, a 'Policy Incubator' for members to raise and discuss new policy ideas with others. We are likely to use Loomio for the latter," Kumar explains to NBR. (Loomio is an online platform for discussions and decision making over the web.)
Everyone will be able to chip in ideas, and propose edits to a policy document.
Yet at some point, it has to be decided which edits are ditched, and which ideas are incorporated into a final policy.
How will that be decided, NBR asked Kumar (the methodical, policy-minded ex-InternetNZ CEO and State Services Commission mandarin whom, all going well for the party, will provide a counterweight to Dotcom).
"When a new policy idea gets sufficient support and traction amongst members, it enters into the structured policy development process if it is in line with the party's vision and goals," Kumar replied.
"The party's rules specify that policies and its manifesto will be finalised by (a yet to be appointed) Policy Committee. This Committee remains responsible and acceptable to finalise the policies and members provide views, expertise, and comments."
And who decides who gets to be on this powerful Policy Committee, with its power of final say?
The Executive Committee?
And who is on the Executive Committee?
The party's rules state, "An election of the Executive Committee shall be conducted at the Annual General Meeting in every second year that is not an election year".
Problem: the Internet Party hasn't had an AGM yet.
And there won't be before the Manifesto is released. "There will be no AGM this year. [There is] too little time and the focus has to be on the General Election," Kumar says.
So in the meantime, "There will be an inaugural Executive Committee consisting of the founders of the party," Kumar says, again quoting the party's rulebook.
"This Committee is in the process of being formed so that it can direct the party by the time registration is completed."
So who exactly are considered the founders, who'll get final say over policy without (at least this year) having to earn their place by popular vote?
"The people who helped get the party started but an exact definition is still being nailed down," Kumar says.
But while he might be still hammering, there are no no prizes for guessing who'll head the Executive Committee.