Are Hustings a massive waste of time during elections?

I was part of a short segment from Chris Page on BBC Newsline looking at the issue of election hustings.

I have seen hustings from both an organisers point of view and somebody who has sat in the audience. For most organisers they are hugely stressful and time consuming, for an audience member they can be a chance to learn about a candidate or they can be incredibly frustrating as candidates struggle/avoid answering questions, plus for some of the more established politicians they can be regarded as a chore.

For anybody thinking about organising a hustings for this coming election, I would advise them to try and be different from what is already out there. Last year when Slugger organised an East Belfast debate, we tried to be as different as possible in terms of location and format. The usual format of a chair, panel and then audience participation is a bit old and stale at this stage. Can you come up with a different location for your husting? Or can you develop a new format that might get people interested?

Other than that, they can have little impact on the election. Some politicians boycott hustings altogether and get election with relative ease.

Would be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments section….

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  • There is a model, “I’m a councillor, get me out of here”, run by youth organisations in schools.

  • There were scores of hustings for the General Election in Oxfordshire, where the sitting MPs often didn’t do very well (especially after a good lunch).

  • Reader

    How about reviving the balloon debate format?
    (That’s just multi-round AV, I think)