In previous Elections, hustings have been organised by each Parish. Obviously, that doesn’t work so well under Island-Wide Voting. The traditional hustings format, with all the candidates sat on one stage, doesn’t really work with over a hundred candidates.
But it’s clear there will be alternatives. There are a number of “themed” hustings, which are open to all candidates. These take a kind of ‘speed dating’ format, so you’ll meet a lot of voters face-to-face, but have a fairly short contact time with each one. The best way of getting a sense of how this kind of hustings works is to take a look at the GDA’s video from the last election, here.
In addition, parties are organising hustings for their members, and so are groups of independent candidates. It sounds like these are going to take more of a traditional format, with questions from an audience to a panel of candidates.
If you aren’t involved in any of these hustings yet, there is nothing to stop you from ringing round other candidates and getting one organised – the logistics are time-consuming, so you might want to rope in a few friends – but you’ll need to do it quickly, because diaries are filling up fast.
I have put together a What’s On page, which includes links to the hustings (that I know of) that are open to all candidates.
You’ll see that I’ve also added links to a number of sites offering candidate questionnaires. For voters, these are helpful tools which offer a way of sorting through over a hundred candidates, in the absence of traditional hustings. For candidates, they’re a bit more like hard work! Face-to-face hustings gave me stage fright, but they were over and done in an hour or two. Preparing (good) written answers to questions can be a lot more time-consuming, and it is worth setting aside time in your daily routine to do so.
Some people say that hustings are important because they are “like the States”, and they’re a test of candidates’ ability to think on their feet, and engage with lots of different topics. I agree that hustings are important, but they’re nothing like the States. I value hustings because you see little snippets of a person’s character – I remember one supremely condescending candidate at the first hustings I went to, and someone else who was more generous and kind. Seeing people face-to-face, and in the context of their fellow candidates, tells you something about their nature as well as their policies, and that’s what I will be looking out for in this year’s hustings, too.