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Building Europe by hand

by Luis de Sousa Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 06:24:13 AM EST

For the first time in my life I'm considering registering with a political party. Why? Because of an initiative that has the potential to completely change the way politics is made in Europe. Two PES activists are proposing a US-style primary system to find the PES candidate for Commission President, where registered party members elect directly their preferred leader. If it ever comes to be like this, both politics and elections in Europe will never be the same, Eurocrats will come closer to Eurocitizens and we'll stop having nomination-surprises like Van Rompuy or Barroso.

The beauty of it all, the sheer elegance, is that all this can be achieved without new treaties, new framework laws or endless Council negotiations, it's all coming from the Citizens themselves. This is how Europe must be built. [UPDATE 14-08-2010] A good deal of broken english corrected.


This initiative is coming out of frustration inside the PES, after the party failed to produce a candidate for the 2009 elections. It's spearheaded by Desmond O'Toole from Ireland and José Reis Santos from Portugal (fairly unknown personality, never heard of him before) and according to them is  finding great support. The EUObserver is reporting about it today:


[...]

"Even in the middle of August, we are pleasantly surprised at how this is growing," he [O'Toole] told EUobserver, adding that the idea will really take off in September when people return from their summer holidays.

The pair also argues that such a move will go a long way to counter the bloc's infamous "democratic deficit."

"There have long been questions about democracy within the EU and these are only increasing," Mr O'Toole said. "European Parliament elections do mater now more than in the past. But only the [centre-right] EPP put forward a candidate. The PES didn't and we clearly lost out as a consequence. The activists are unsatisfied."

José Reis Santos points to the present leader appointment system (that mimics the way the Commission itself is nominated) as a reason for the present democratic deficit in the EU:


Mr Santos, writing on the campaign's blog, said this partly explains the falling turnout for EU elections: "Regular citizens are not voting in European and national elections - they just can't feel represented by the politicians in the ballots, as some are chosen behind closed doors, in the clubs and alleys dominated by the party hierarchical system."

They say that a decision on the candidate by the PES Presidium, its executive, or even by its congress, does not go far enough to engage citizens.

"All these options represent old ways of doing politics, and I strongly believe that the European citizens, in particular progressive citizens, do expect more from us," said Mr Santos.

There's more to read in the original article.

I see a few obvious positive outcomes coming from something like this:


  • Electors would become better familiarized with their candidates, knowing their personalities and political proposals beforehand.
  • Media outlets, traditionally focused on state-level politics, would be forced to focus more on European politics. It would have a feedback effect by exposing even more the candidates to the general public.
  • It would incite citizen involvement in politics, since to vote on primaries a registration with the party is needed. Fresh minds would flow to the party's bases and basic debate.
  • And naturally it would force other parties to follow suit, otherwise their exposure to the public could end up being incomparably less. Even if not opting for US-style primary systems they'd still need to find ways to expose their candidates, also relegating the traditional regional politics in European elections.

On the negative side I fear the wide adoption of such system could lead to a US-style bi-polarized political landscape. This could happen if electors feel that without being registered with either PES or EPP their decision powers would be diminished. That would be extremely negative, bi-polarization can be a major impairment for Democracy, turning everything in one's life a political choice, as in my opinion happened in the US. Nonetheless, in Europe both Liberals and Scientific Socialists are well implanted in the electorate and represent objective philosophical perspectives, so the risk of bi-polarization may be low.

The Campaign for a PES Primary has a weblog where the initiative can be known in more detail. There's also a social network group where one can join the initiative and an instant message account to follow events as they happen.

Display:
I don't know, but the thought of copying the US primary system makes makes me uncomfortable. Looking at the candidates that have come up through this system, I wonder if it is really that good and worth adapting it here in Europe.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 08:59:31 AM EST
The quality of the elected reflects the quality of the electors, IMHO.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 10:19:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does that mean you have more faith in European electors? I mean looking around some election outcomes here in Europe over the last few years, I am not so sure that the outcome would be that much better.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 10:36:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Me thinks your comment is based on a mis-understanding about the benefits of democracy. Democracy does not assure a "good decision" (what is that, by the way?). It only assures that when people perceive that they are in pain, they can replace the political ruling class. It also means that the political ruling class has to, in some degree, follow the whims of the masses and are afraid of the majority.

This is the best system I can conceive. Any other alternative will just mean that the masses will be put to suffer in great quantity. Well meaning systems (communism comes to mind) tend to have the worse kind of results.

Honestly (if you allow me some candour), it strikes me as arrogant that you think you know better than your human peers. In some sense, I am happy that you do not hold any important power. Or if you did, I would be happy to know it would not be eternal. Interestingly I probably subscribe to your distaste about recent options in Europe.

The great underlying problem with your reasoning, in my opinion, is that, some enlightened group can understand the needs of society very well. It cannot: humans are limited in their cognitive abilities (there is no hope for the idea that a single group can comprehend the whole society needs and functioning - we are not omniscient!). Also the notion of "good" varies quite a lot.

I do not see democracy offering a great deal: only a way for people to say "enough!". The problem is that I think all other alternatives are much worse.

Democracy is indeed the worst form of government. Except all others that have been tried.

Churchill was correct, I believe.

by t-------------- on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 01:18:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, the essence of Democracy is limited terms of office and the power of impeachment.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 01:21:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"This is the best system I can conceive. Any other alternative will just mean that the masses will be put to suffer in great quantity."

Perhaps. However, monarchy has been the standard system for most of recorded history across most cultures. It allows the power-hungry to pursue their goals within the court system while allowing the masses to pursue their goals of football and gossip.

The relatively brief history of democracy has included popular movements on both the extreme right and extreme left, interspersed with a few decades only of stability. With the masses suffering practically all the time...

by asdf on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 06:59:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
Does that mean you have more faith in European electors?

I read this simply as more faith in European electors then US ones given a similar system of primaries. It would then be primaries, not democracy, that is under discussion.

So from my point of view your answer is misdirected. Of course, that might be a misunderstanding on my part.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 07:49:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does that mean you have more faith in European electors?

Yes Fran, I'm portuguese...

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 04:04:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Luis de Sousa:
The quality of the elected reflects the quality of the electors, IMHO.

I find this statement a bit simplistic. It is certainly partly true, but you have to take into account the political system (how the candidates who are proposed to the voters are selected) and the electoral system (FPTP, Proportional Representation...) impact the representation and the legitimacy of the elected. Add the question of political parties and campaign financing and the control/independance of the media...

Besides as a French voter, I find your claim very offensive... ;-)

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 10:48:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I acknowledge your point, and besides, if it was as simple as that, then primaries wouldn't have any effect. Let's just say that the system sets how clear or murky is the reflection from electors to the elected.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 04:03:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No. It's sensitive, possibly more sensitive, to the system in which the election is held. To reduce it to the ludicrous, as system in which only clinically diagnosed narcissist sociopaths could be elected doesn't seem likely to lead to good outcomes regardless of the quality of the electors.

Elections are part of a democratic system and only allow for the decisions the system contains.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 03:40:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... do not build in some of the flaws that are present in the US circumstance by the ad hoc nature of its emergence from the prior system ...

... but if this comment is pointing to a substantial reduction in the quality of US candidates since primaries became the dominant means of selecting candidates, I think its substantially less than 20:20 vision in the rear view mirror, with the jokes, slackers, and corrupt hacks of a previous age not having the same persistence in memory as a handful of politicians that rose above the normal extraordinarily low standard in the days of party machines selecting candidates.

Second preference voting to distribute first preferences for marginal candidates, and an established rotation of primary order would be important elements to be sure to include.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 12:57:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This seems to me like a apples to oranges comparison. There are more things to consider, chief of them:

  1. The EU has some kind of less controlled mass media.

  2. You can be a candidate without being a millionaire (or having the need for the support of millionaires).

The problems of the American primary system have more to do with externalities than with being a primary.

The EU being a democracy (or sort-of-a democracy) would be a welcome step.

Maybe Darth Vader can become Anakin.

PS - I also sort-of agree with Luis' point on the quality of electors, but just not much in this specific case.

by t-------------- on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 01:29:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Five years ago I would have been enthused by this initiative.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 10:22:56 AM EST
So, what has changed?

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.
by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 04:05:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I grew up.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:17:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is an interesting initiative, but it's not enough. It would make sense only if the PES were to develop a comprehensive Europe-wide political programme. So far it is not the case.

In a primary à l'américaine voters have to be registered as Republicans, Democrats or Independents. I don't see it possible nor desirable in Europe. It might the limit it to the party members, which wouldn't be such an improvement. I'd rather opt for an open primary à l'italienne where every voter can participate.

As far as I know, you cannot be a direct member of a the PES: you have first to be a member of a national party. While I might consider becoming a member of the PES (or Europe Ecology), I will certainly not join the French Parti Socialiste...

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 11:04:37 AM EST
So membership in a French third party that was affiliated with the PES would expand the range of people who would participate in the primaries?


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 01:01:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The concept of "third party" doesn't exist in the French political system.

And the Parti Socialiste is the only French member of the PES.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 01:51:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only major ones?

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 11:29:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Third party", the man said...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 03:23:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa ...

... but since its not literally true to say that France has no third parties, given that France has more than two main parties and some party is going to finish third in any parliamentary election, I took the "third party" to have been translated already into "minor party".

There is no opportunity to start a minor party in France, or no opportunity for it to affiliate with the PES.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 04:51:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
two-party system (which, as we know, is TWICE as democratic as a one-party system!), I think this is Melenchthon's point. Third parties are a sort of window-dressing which are intended to illustrate that democracy exists, whereas they illustrate the contrary.

On the other hand, Melenchthon exhibits typical French arrogance ;o) in that, of course, there are two "main" parties and there are other parties.

Although the French political elite have tried very hard to convert France into a two-party state (through constitutional amendments among other things), it's not clear that the frame is going to hold. The next year or so is probably crucial in this respect.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 06:58:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, so France is not a two-party system, where minor parties are third parties, but a major / minor party system, where it so happens that there are two major parties at this point in time.

While I am sure that my unfortunate choice of terms is endlessly fascinating, the original question stands entirely aside from semantic quibbling: if this is a party primary for a coalition of parties, would it be possible to form a PES-supporting minor party that people could support without joining the French Socialists, and thereby open up the PES primary to those who are unwilling to join the Socialists?

This is, after all, a more general issue if primaries take hold ... one might want to vote in a European Green primary while being blessed with one of those broken neoliberal Green parties as your local coalition member.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 11:57:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably not.

I would guess that the Soc-dems probably only accept one party per country, as their general pattern is being one of the major parties and has little to gain (short term) by giving minor parties access to their European structure.

But I do not know.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 04:13:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's because France (like the UK) doesn't have proportional representation... Spain's system is so skewed towards local pluralities that it's become a highly distorted two-party system. And Italy, well...

It's sad the only approximation to democracy among the biggest EU member states is Germany...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 07:06:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The French Parti Socialiste might veto admission of another French party to the PES. Spain's PP vetoed the entry of the Basque Nationalist Party into the EPP, for instance.

In point of fact, French parties in the "plural left", whose prominent members may even run in joint lists with the PS or enter into mutual agreements to withdraw from a second round run-off if another left candidate is better placed to beat the right, are probably already members of other pan-European political parties such as the Green Left, United Left, etc...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 07:12:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is general ... someone might want to support Green Left in Europe but not join one's national Green Left affiliate, ditto United Left.

If party membership is required for a caucus-style primary, the formation of an auxiliary party to "join" the PES, United Left, Green Left etc. without joining the main electoral party in your country be one way for someone in a "I'd support PES, but NuLab? Are You Joking?" situation.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:01:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eventually people realize that political parties are less about ideology or policy than about furthering the interests of  cartain patronage political economy networks, and give up.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:16:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see why one would support a political party in the way one would support a football team, but if one of the parties is at the present point in time supporting the policy that one wants to see implemented, it seems to make sense to support them while they support that policy.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:27:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This thread is about membership, not about support.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:39:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the point of voting in a primary is to express support for the policies supported by one or another party member seeking to become a party candidate ...

... party membership is only requisite if, as proposed in this essay, the primary is an innovation being pursued by a party.

There are no primaries in the US where party membership is required. Some require a declaration of party affiliation on registration, others, as here in Ohio, allow you to declare which party's primary you want to vote in on primary day.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:55:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We've had this discussion about the different relationship of Europeans and Americans to their political parties before. I'll try to dig it up.

Basically, in the US campaigns are mostly run by volunteer sympathisers. In Europe, unless you're a dues-paying (literally "card-carrying") party member, you (generally) cannot be involved.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 01:16:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The question here is whether primaries can open up the resulting insular thinking that results in a useful way. For it to serve the pan-European ambition laid out in the diary, more flexibility than being limited to card carrying members of the main local PES party is desirable. A minor party expressly for the purpose of affiliating with PES (or Green Left or etc.) in general without joining the local main coalition member would provide that flexibility.

It would also the long term interest of the primary affiliate, but given that same insular thinking they would be less likely to realize it.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 01:29:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European party primaries are a populist appeal to the membership at large when the internecine warfare among rival cadre factions gets out of hand.

The examples of primaries in both the French Parti Socialiste and Spanish Partido Socialista Obrero Español in the past 15 years illustrate this.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 01:36:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And doing that at a Europe-wide level wouldn't increase the European identity of the party federations?

While another difference between European and American parties is that there is much stronger identification of the American national parties, in both cases they are federations of state parties.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 01:49:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would, but it won't increase the level of popular involvement outside party members, by design.

Also, many European parties, to avoid entryism, prevent recently registered members from voting in internal contests.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 01:56:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the rationale for closed primaries in the US (to registered party supporters, not card carrying party members, of course) ... open primaries are better for encouraging participation.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 02:50:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But voter registration in the US is very easy to change and doesn't require any payment of fees...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 03:11:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
re: "There are no primaries in the US where party membership is required."

Ima tell you how it's done in MD. MD is so tech savvy. MD administers closed primary elections for the uniparty.

When a voter presents him- or herself to a polling place the day of a primary election, an election judge verifies his or her identity against personal information retrieved from the "Polling Book," a kinda laptop device connected to the SoS DB. That record includes uniparty affiliation, if any. Voter may NOT change party affiliation at the polling place. If voter ID verified, polling book writes voter ID to a flash card. Voter inserts flash card to voting machine. Voting machine will display ONLY the party ballot that voter is authorized to nominate according to party affiliation AND the NONPARTISAN ballot

A voter who is not affiliated with a uniparty faction is NOT permitted access to either party's ballot. This voter is permitted access only to the NONPARTISAN ballot --circuit judges and board of education members-- scheduled that day.

So, yeah. Membership is required to vote for a party candidate in MD.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 02:08:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that's a lively imagination, you got there.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 02:13:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But party membership is not required, as it would be in Europe, only prior registration as a supporter of that party.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 02:52:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
lol. GTFO!

What is a party primary election?

The Democratic and Republican Parties are required to use primary elections to choose their candidates for the general election. Although it is up to the parties to decide who may vote in their primaries, generally only registered voters affiliated with the Democratic or Republican Parties may vote in that party's primary election.

Can I vote in a party primary election?

Generally, you must be registered with either the Democratic or Republican Party to vote in the primary election. If there are non-partisan offices that are elected in a primary election (i.e., school board), any voter can vote for these offices. Contact your local board of elections.

SOOOO. Let me rephrase American English for our ESL colleagues. Such nuance!: "to register with" does NOT mean to ENTER INTO or ENROLL IN or OBTAIN INCLUSION or actually AFFILIATE with the organization.

"To register with" is coded language of "to support."

Which is precisely why the state of MD (and NY, god knows) nowhere employs or accepts a declaration of "support" as qualification in lieu of an officious biometric membership ID with dated expiry to vote either a Democratic Party or Republican Party ballot.

brilliant.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 04:00:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... its not required to be a member of the party.

The deadline to change from one party to another or to change to or from unaffiliated or independent status is 9 p.m. on the Monday 12 weeks prior to the primary election.

When engaged in over the top sarcasm at how grievously stupid and wrong the person you are mocking in, check your facts.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 09:18:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am quite serious then in saying that quibbling semantics is not applicable to the enforcement of Voting Rights laws in the state where I have been an poll administrator, an election judge, since 2006.

I responded to your claim, "There are no primaries in the US where party membership is required."

This statement is factually incorrect in Maryland. A declaration of affiliation documented by the state board of election --"membership"-- is required of a registered voter to elect a nominee from the primary ballot of the political organization (club/association/party, there are only two named ballots presented) in which one includes oneself.

I could not permit, even if I wanted to, any voter access to a ballot for which he or she is not qualified by "membership,"
, explained here.

What you've excerpted from the link that I provided in no way, shape, or form contradicts any of the information about voter registration and primary election participation I have offered in this thread, here and here and here.

How many times a person registers to vote in order to change party "membership" or precinct "membership" (due to change of address) prior to the DEADLINE is immaterial to the question, who may vote in a closed primary on election day in Maryland.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 17th, 2010 at 01:04:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no need to be on the membership rolls of the Democratic or Republican party in Maryland to register as a Democrat or Republican.

You can try to confuse the matter by stating the fact and then stating the misinterpretation side by side

A declaration of affiliation documented by the state board of election --"membership"
... but a declaration of affiliation is not the same as membership in the party.

The topic of this diary are European parties, where the primary as described would likely be limited to actual, card-carrying, dues paying members of the party.

Its unfortunate that your idea of advocacy is to abuse people and overstate the facts, since the unvarnished facts with no exaggeration are bad enough, and your over the top hyperbole and the bile that you spew does nothing to advance what is a quite important cause.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Aug 17th, 2010 at 02:37:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bruce, I apologize for hurting your feelings.

I just got off the phone with Roslynn at the Democratic Party National Committee in Washington D.C. This is the Main Phone Number: 202-863-8000.

I called that number because the Maryland Democratic Party Committee's phone number was out of service.

Roslynn tells me that if I check the box when I register to vote, I become a member of the Democratic Party. No further action is required to vote in a primary election. There is no other party "member roll" beside the one compiled by the state.

If I want to be a member of the Democratic Party National Committee, I may enroll myself online and participate in numerous civic activities, organized by the Committee throughout the year.

Now I hope you can calm yourself.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Aug 17th, 2010 at 04:14:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some other time, I hope you'll remind our colleagues of the significance of either "support" or "membership" was to registered voters participating in Michigan and Florida primary elections of 2008.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Aug 17th, 2010 at 01:13:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are no mechanical reasons that this cannot happen. Denmark, for instance, has two ALDE-affiliated parties - an FDP-style neolib party and a LibDem-style "compulsive centrist" party.

But while it is not unheard of for a party to be represented only at either the federal or state level (Denmark, again, sports examples of both), it is normally something associated with marginal (or dying) parties, and is more prevalent on the Eurosceptic end of the spectrum.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 05:10:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
re: "Independents"

Party affiliation is not required to register to vote in any "general election" within the USA.

A registered voter who does not declare affiliation to either uniparty faction (Democratic Party or Republican Party) at the time of registration is determined by default or the state election board for classification purposes to be an "independent" or "unaffiliated" registered voter.

While franchise regulation varies by state as does number of political parties organized therein, the only formal declaratory options offered typically to the voter are "Democratic," "Republican," and "independent" (or "unaffiliated").

Selecting "independent" (or "unaffiliated") registration does not anywhere enroll a voter to membership in the America's Independent Party or the American Independent Party. Selecting "independent" (or "unaffiliated") may not be  construed reasonably to indicate undeclared membership with these or any other political organization such as "Tea Party."

Some primary elections are wholly sponsored by the uniparty factions and partly subsidized by state election board monies. In such case, a "closed primary," registrars require voters to declare faction affiliation at a date prior to polling of each party's candidates. The uniparty factions' polling dates may or may not each coincide, and deadline qualification of voters' registration will vary by state.

Alternatively, some states sponsor "open" primary elections.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 02:26:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The overwhelming majority of Americans are either Republicans or Democrats, but there are lots of other parties that you can register in, participate in primaries of, and vote for in the general election. Colorado has six, for example: R, D, Green, Constitution, Unity, and Libertarian. There's a distinction between "major" and "minor" party status, which involves the number of votes you get, whether you have a convention, and whether you run candidates for certain positions. As an official "major" party, you get somewhat better ballot access, but I think that in most states you have more options than just R & D...
by asdf on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 07:11:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
re: "The overwhelming majority of Americans are either Republicans or Democrats"

That is your impression. I'm uncertain what evidence --state election boards' results or random phone survey, for example-- will support that belief. I think, based on my observations these past 30 years, that in aggregate (nation-wide) declarations are now nearly evenly distributed; and that trend toward a uniparty failure to predict a plurality, a "majority," to either faction or to unaffiliated registered voters ("independents") is the salient characteristic of the electorate that caused such excitement during the 2008 presidential election, in particular, and specifically during the extended primary season, because "analysts" early on surmised that partisan "strategists" intended to induce voters to toggle party declaration in order to game nominations in states where the opponent party conducted caucus elections. Events in Texas comprised one of the more lurid and acrimonious episodes of electioneering to that end; there was, concurrently, the farcical "superdelegate" auction culminating in the 2008 Democratic Party convention.

I intended my remark above to help ET readers understand that "independent" is NOT a US political party per se. The distinction between partisan voters and those who complement uniparty factional melodrama is not immediately obvious from Melanchthon's reference to voter registrations. The information I added primarily concerns classification, rather than "open" primary or caucus ("closed" primary) election administration.

wiki maintains an informative article on the topic. In fact, the most pertinent section of that article, as bears on expection about facilitating international voter participation in EU parliamentary representation, is this one. That is citation of the McGovern-Fraser Commission.

The events at and around the Democratic national convention of 1968 left the party in disarray, unable to support its nominee and divided over matters of both substance and procedure. The 1968 convention was disastrous for the Democrats, as much because of the demonstrations and violent police responses outside the convention hall as because of the convention itself. What took place in Chicago went well beyond party leaders' ignoring one candidate, Eugene McCarthy, who could claim to have demonstrated his appeal to voters in the primaries and nominating another, Hubert Humphrey, who had not entered a single primary.

déjafuckinvu.

One of the unintended [!] consequences of McGovern-Fraser [uniparty committees'] reforms was an enormous surge in the number of state party presidential primaries. Prior to the reforms, Democrats in two-thirds of the states used elite-run state conventions to choose convention delegates. In the post-reform era, over three-quarters of the states use primary elections to choose delegates, and over 80% of convention delegates are selected in these primaries. This is true for Republicans as well.[8]

Nominating procedures are determined by states, and there are three basic types of primary. The two simplest primary forms are what are referred to as "open" and "closed" primaries. In the open primary, any registered voter may participate regardless of partisan affiliation. This category also includes states that allow same-day party registration. Conversely, in the closed primary, only same-party registered partisans may participate. Modified-open primaries encompass a broad category of voting rules that are neither fully closed nor fully open for all to participate and include primaries where same-party registrants may participate with "independents," "unenrolled," "unaffiliated," or "undeclared" voters.[8] [emphasis added]

Now. Americans who register to vote will recognize at least one legacy mechanism, one artifact, of historical caucus engineering of funds and franchise in the design of the registration forms in circulation: three check boxes, "Democrat," "Republican," or "Independent," which is in itself a categorical statement that denotes any other (than uniparty) affiliation or none at all.

If a Colorado voter registration form provides a list of all political parties operating either a caucus or primary election within its jurisdiction to which the registrant is invited to declare affiliation, I should like to know. You did not mention.
 

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Aug 15th, 2010 at 04:35:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a teaching moment that I almost forgot.

Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-undeclared, has long wanted to get rid of party primaries. In 2003 he spent $7.5 million to push nonpartisan elections in a city referendum, but voters shot it down 70% to 30%. The dream never died, though, and he was heartened when California voters agreed to a similar plan this year over the objections of Republican and Democratic leaders alike. It got a boost when Citizens Union reversed its earlier opposition this summer, saying it now supported "top two" elections as a way to encourage voter participation....

Nonpartisan elections get rid of party primaries and let anyone run for city offices in an open September election, with the top two finishers facing off in a November election. Candidates could list their parties next to their names if they want, and parties could endorse and support candidates, but no party would be guaranteed a line in November.

Read more...

California, 2008, Prop 11

In 2008, we worked with a broad array of organizations on a bipartisan basis to put voters in charge of how political districts are drawn, and end the unavoidable conflict of interest present when legislators decide their own electoral district boundaries. As a result of the passage of Prop. 11, starting in 2011 Legislators will no longer be able to cherry pick voters or carve out of their districts communities they don't want -- districts will be drawn by voters, for voters. More can be done to improve our electoral system, but Prop 11 was an important step and showed Californians can change the system.

Read more...

California Proposition 11, also known as the Voters First Act, was on the November 4, 2008 ballot in California as a proposed amendment to the California Constitution through initiative.

Proposition 11 was approved by a slim margin of 50.9% of the vote.[1] It authorized the creation of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.[2]

Read more...

California, 2010, Prop 14

A California Top Two Primaries Act ballot proposition was on the June 8, 2010 ballot in California as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

Proposition 14 requires that candidates run in a single primary open to all registered voters, with the top two vote-getters meeting in a runoff. The new system will take effect in the 2012 elections.[1]

Read more...

Bonus Reporting by California Secretary of State: Registrations, .pdf and .xls

Bonus Analysis by the "professional left." Amateur left or "access bloggers"? (NB. Ballotopedia supporter listings for both propositions 11 and 14)

What it would really do is produce a "Louisiana primary," were any candidate can complete with any party label attached to his or her name, and all voters voting in the same primary. The top two total vote-getters, regardless of party, would be the only two candidates on the general election ballot in November.

Read more...

So. Do ET readers really want to back establishing electoral trusts, "machine" electioneering, in order to promote "democratization"?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Aug 15th, 2010 at 10:35:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you cannot be a direct member of a the PES: you have first to be a member of a national party. While I might consider becoming a member of the PES (or Europe Ecology), I will certainly not join the French Parti Socialiste...

Precisely the situation I found myself in while in the UK - there was no way I was going to join NuLab.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 07:08:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Melanchton, my hope is that when entering a primary each candidate shall have to present some archetype of a pan-european political programme, that's the single best way to differentiate between themselves.  

PES is a federation (of sorts), which is the right way to be. The adhesion to the party must be made from below, at the regional level. If you sympathize with PES but do not revise yourself on the Parti Socialiste that may be one more reason to join rank and start the change from the inside. But well, people with glass houses...

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 04:13:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The trick with the primary system, I think, is to make it a general non-partisan primary. The current American system brings out extremists on the party fringes, because the primary voters tend to be populist activists. Here in Colorado we just had our primary this week and it is truly a horrifying disaster for at least one of the two parties.

But if you make it a non-partisan primary, perhaps you might as well go to instant runoff voting, which has more or less the same effect...

by asdf on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 10:16:31 PM EST
These primaries are internal party affairs, not officially sancioned and run by the state like in the US as part of the general election process.

As such, it is usually only party members that get to vote.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 07:06:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
some are closed primaries, some are completely open but each party gets a general election ballot slot, some are effectively a top-2 nonpartisan primary that lumps all candidates together, some allow the parties to choose who can vote in their primaries. california will have had all 4 in the past decade, thanks to a couple supreme court decisions and ballot initiatives.

elections in america are granular to the county and occasionally even precinct level. about as decentralized as education, if not moreso.

by wu ming on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 10:20:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is more like what is known as a firehouse caucus in the US than a primary. Caucus's are party affairs, primaries are run or partly run by the boards of elections, a firehouse caucus is a caucus that is run like a primary except the party runs the whole show (since firemen are typically members of the fireman's union, often with the local fire station as the polling place).

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 04:56:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is this even a good thing? Why do you want to give the Commission a veneer of democratic legitimacy?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 03:19:56 AM EST
Hm. Let me rephrase that.

Why would you want it to look as if it represented "the people" in some way? A veneer of direct democracy.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 04:11:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because fact might follow narrative.

If the groups start appointing their candidate before the election, the parliament might very well grab power over Commission appointment and the Council's role would then become formal instead of real. After an election featuring a candidate Commission president candidate from at least PES and EPP each, would make it kind of hard to appoint anyone else. And once the president is appointed by parliament, the rest of the Commission would follow.

Not unlike how parliaments in many countries grabbed appointment power from their king.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Aug 16th, 2010 at 08:09:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The federal European level's accountability problem isn't due to the way parties are organised so much as the fact that the federal level of European politics simply isn't tossing that much money around in the grand scheme of things.

Give Parliament the power to raise taxes, and the obligation to oversee the construction and maintenance of cross-European infrastructure like gas pipelines and railways. That should get people's attention.

Oh, there are ways to make the federal parties less dependent on their local branches - such as removing restrictions on cross-border party membership, or permitting pan-European parties to form directly at the European level, rather than incorporating themselves in a multitude of local parties first.

But the big deal is that the EU has to be a big deal. And the only (or at least the fastest) way to make it a big deal is to allow it to directly levy taxes on the voters.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 22nd, 2010 at 05:44:20 PM EST


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