Electoral Commission targets foreign MPs discussing NZ election on social media

Some foreign MPs have been posting about the election on social media.
Some foreign MPs have been posting about the election on social media. Photo credit: Newshub.

The Electoral Commission has been going after foreign lawmakers, asking them to stop talking about our election.

It's against the law to campaign or do anything which obstructs or influences voters on the nominal election day in New Zealand, despite the polls being open for two weeks already.

But some foreign MPs have been expressing their support on social media site Twitter - among them Australia's Anthony Albanese, Ireland's Alan Kelly, and English MP Angela Eagle. 

The Electoral Commission tweeted at each of them, saying "in New Zealand, we have rules against promoting parties or candidates on social media on election day. Could you please remove this tweet until after 7pm New Zealand time?"

All three complied, despite not being in New Zealand. 

"No prob," Eagle tweeted. "Would be interested to chat (when you have time) about how you control the abuse of social media which has been affecting all democratic processes throughout the world."

The Electoral Commission declined Newshub's request for an interview but said in a statement it had reminded a few people about the law on Saturday, who were generally happy to comply.

Political commentator Grant Duncan said it's understandable people overseas don't know New Zealand's law.

"That law is, of course, difficult to enforce when you have social media," said Duncan, an Associate Professor at Massey University.

"Nonetheless, that is the law, and people have to be advised to abide by it.

"It is a really good law because it means that on this day, people can go to the polling booths in peace; not bothered by campaigning or leafleting, or anything like that," Duncan told Newshub.   

Anyone who breaks the law could be fined up to $20,000. 

Any content posted before Saturday is allowed to stay up.