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A Dialogue on Party Disipline

by ARGeezer Mon Jun 6th, 2016 at 02:21:18 PM EST

I recently has a discussion with a FB friend about 'kicking out' members of the Labor Party such as Blair. I wondered if that were possible. The same question arises in other counties. In the USA I am certain that the leaders of the Republican Party and the RNC would have kicked Donald Trump out of the party had they been able.

It seems to me that parties are not able and should not be able to prevent people from registering to vote as members of their party. That would infringe on their right to vote. Exclude from leadership - unequivocally yes. But no matter how odious or notorious an individual might be and regardless of the possibility of their only wanting to join a party to discredit it by their very presence can they still join?


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How does the answer to this question vary from country to country?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 6th, 2016 at 02:24:33 PM EST
In practice how is this question dealt with in China, Vietnam, North Korea Russia and some of the former republics of the Soveit Union?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 6th, 2016 at 02:30:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The legal status and role of parties varies considerably by jurisdiction. In some (corrupt) countries, membership of the ruling party can be a prerequisite for doing business, getting considered for state contracts etc.

In most Western democracies, whether you join a party or not is purely a private matter, and parties can also make up the rules of membership pretty much as they like. Most are struggling to get people to join in large numbers, so expelling dissidents or embarrassing members can be a low priority. Expelling Blair would be problematic as many of the leadership figures are still broadly Blairite in their views.  a More likely candidate for expulsion would be someone like Ken Livingstone for expressing anti- Zionist views...

In Ireland and the UK Unions can affiliate to the Labour party which means some of their members contribution goes to the party whether individual members like it or not. Generally speaking contributions from lobbyists, businesses and wealthy individuals are tightly controlled in terms of transparency and amounts but who knows what goes on under the table? Most political parties are also in receipt of state funding to help defray election expenses generally in rough proportion to their share of the popular vote but that can come with strings attached - such as minimum quotas for female candidates etc. The idea here is to reduce their dependency on corporate or wealthy benefactors.

In polities with proportional representation there are generally several viable parties and so if people don't like how one party is run, they have several other options to choose from.  In countries such as the US and UK with first past the post systems, the two main parties are enormously advantaged and privileged in many ways and people have little choice if they don't like how they are run. Insofar as they receive public funding it can also be argued that they should be more subject to public regulation to assure transparency and fairness etc., but basically they make up their own rules as they see fit, often at a local level with little public oversight.

My own view is that first past the post systems are primitive and polarising, that all corporate donations should be regarded as bribery, and that any parties in receipt of public funding (which I support) should also be subject to strict regulation governing membership entitlements, transparency, funding limits, fair procedure etc. with judicial oversight of same.  Other than that, the more and more diverse, the merrier.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 6th, 2016 at 06:56:54 PM EST
Your presidential candidate: Hot or not?

The best way to make American elections fair, according to a new book, is to use a voting method known for ranking drunk sorority girls.
Farhad Manjoo

 In 1948, the economist Kenneth Arrow chanced upon a surprising idea that would later help earn him the Nobel Prize. It concerns the basic difficulty of turning many people's individual votes into a satisfactory choice for the whole society. Arrow proved that when people are selecting a leader out of more than two candidates -- as happens often in presidential elections, if you count all the losers who run in the primaries -- there is no voting system that can arrange the population's preferences in a way that accords with a few basic rules of fairness. His idea -- known as the Arrow Impossibility Theorem -- gets at the unseen importance of the particular procedures we use to tabulate our votes. Elections aren't just a matter of adding up what everyone wants; the way you add it up, and the way you determine what the additions mean, Arrow showed, can be just as important to the outcome as the votes themselves.

A mathematical proof seems a strange protagonist for a book about the length and breadth of American political chicanery. But in "Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair (and What We Can Do About It)," William Poundstone gives math a leading place in politics. He uses Arrow's theorem as a launching-off point for a comic and freewheeling, if a bit discursive, look at the ways political professionals have turned the quirks of voting rules into election victories over the course of a couple centuries. By the end of it, you've been pummeled by numbers, the bizarre outcomes of game theory, and the certainty that America votes in a completely bassackward way. Oh, and also this: Probably the best way to reform how we vote, per this book's analysis, would be to adopt the method used on the bod-rating Web site Hot or Not.

by Zwackus on Tue Jun 7th, 2016 at 05:42:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you are mixing two issues here: preventing people from joining and kicking existing members out.

In Europe, kicking someone out is common in populist parties when leaders clash (recent example: Marine Le Pen kicking out his dad). In mainstream parties, it usually happens when prominent members cause a scandal or openly campaign against the party. But kicking someone out is usually difficult and those kicked out can sue in regular courts against the decision. Some cases:

  • In the UK, Labour expelled George Galloway for his comments about the Iraq War in 2003.
  • In Germany, CDU member of parliament Martin Hohmann held an anti-semitic speech in 2003. Merkel quickly kicked him out of the CDU parliamentary faction, but it took more than half a year for his local party branch to also expel him from the party.
  • Also in Germany, the SPD had a string of high-profile cases. The first was Wolfgang Clement, former economy and labour super-minister under Schröder, a complete corporate sell-out who began to attack his own party from the right. The expulsion proceedings started when he openly called against the election of the SPD in the 2008 Hessen regional elections for being too leftist. His local party branch decided against expulsion, which was over-turned at regional level, which was reduced to a mere admonishment at federal level, but Clement then left on his own.
  • Another scandalous SPD member is Islamophobe and upper-class racist hate-monger Thilo Sarrazin. Two successive attempts at expulsion failed at the level of his local party branch in Berlin, the second time just because he pledged himself to Social Democrat values. He is still an SPD member and still publishing new books full of racist theses.
  • In 2013, the SPD wanted to expel Sebastian Edathy over a child pornography case. It didn't get to that, only to a five-year suspension of membership by mutual agreement.
  • Italy's most famous party expulsion was when the Italian Socialist Party kicked Mussolini out for supporting Italy's entry into WWI.
  • There was a similar case in France: in 1934, the French Communist Party kicked out Jacques Doriot for supporting the idea of a popular front coalition, which he responded to by turning a fascist (and opposing the actual Popular Front government when PCF made its about-face).

In Europe, preventing would-be members from joining usually comes up when the party establishment becomes afraid of entryism. The most recent example is attempts in the UK's Labour to block the surge of new applicants who came because of Corbyn. There was a similar case in Germany, when a student movement started in 1998 with the actual explicit intent to take over the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), but the party establishment reacted by raising the bar on joining. So several thousands joined, some rising high in the ranks later, but there was no real re-orientation of the party.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 7th, 2016 at 06:19:44 AM EST
It is often difficult to separate conflated issues. In the cases you described I still don't know, for example, if George Galloway was expelled from Labour Party membership, just from the leadership or both. Also, by what means. I presume he could still vote for Labour in a general election should he so desire in any case. The issue is similar to citizenship in some respects. A native born US Citizen usually will, by law, lose their right to vote upon a felony conviction. The exact conditions vary from state to state as do the conditions under which lost civil rights are restored, if they ever are. But they do not lose citizenship, as that is intrinsic. Citizenship, however, can be revoked for immigrants and they can be deported.

The right to join and remain a member of a political party and the conditions under which that can be revoked seems to be more complex than we might imagine. The original question arose out of a discussion of what to do about former 'new Labour' leaders who were attempting to sabotage Corbyn. The person with whom I was having the discussion was born a US citizen but now resides in the UK. To the question of 'can they be expelled from the party' she answered 'of course they can'. But the grounds upon which this could happen and the mechanism for so doing have still to be elucidated.

I am hardly an expert on comparative political science as it applies to membership rights and rules in various countries, so it is hard for me to even start to investigate the issue. The same questions apply to every example you gave. I expect you can answer pretty directly and with some detail for Germany and Hungary.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 7th, 2016 at 09:07:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Galloway was expelled from the party by the standing committee responsible for such matters.

George Galloway - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The National Constitutional Committee, responsible for internal disciplinary matters, held a hearing on 22 October 2003, to consider the charges, taking evidence from Galloway himself, from other party witnesses, viewing media interviews, and hearing character testimony from former Cabinet Minister Tony Benn,[100] among others. The following day, the committee decided in favour of four of the five charges accusing Galloway of "bringing the party into disrepute," and expelled Galloway from the Labour Party.[1]

Outside the US, there is no such thing as registration by party, and you don't provide your party affiliation when voting in publicly administered elections. Instead, party membership is something much stronger: it's like joining a club, you sign papers, get a membership ID, pay a membership fee, and are invited to exclusive party meetings. (I think the US is really special in this respect: what I described is AFAIK similar in Europe, Australia, Canada, Mexico and the rest of Latin America, Japan, etc, and I can't think of any other country where registration has the same significance as in the US.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 7th, 2016 at 10:36:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do ballots list the party affiliation of candidates? And am I correct that there IS a registration with some official state organization to determine the elegibility to vote, and, for local and regional elections determine who is eligible according to residence?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jun 7th, 2016 at 01:02:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a register, but at least in Sweden it is automatic. You turn 18, you are registered to vote. And they know your age because everyone gets their ID number at birth or when you migrate to Sweden.
by fjallstrom on Tue Jun 7th, 2016 at 05:52:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ballots of course list party affiliation (and parties, where we have proportional voting): the secret part of voting is on the voters' side.

Registration differs from country to country; I'd distinguish three basic types: in some, you have to request registration as a standalone official act; in others, you get to do it alongside doing residence declaration or some other official document all people have to fill out; in still others, there is no registration but people are automatically enrolled on voter lists by the state (as fjallstrom wrote, thanks to IDs). The UK, Australia and Mexico are in the first group, France and Canada are in the second, while the overwhelming majority of European states is in the third group (including Germany, the Netherlands, all Scandinavian countries, Italy or Hungary).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 7th, 2016 at 07:07:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do ballots list the party affiliation of candidates?

Yes, but at least in Sweden that is because it is primarily a party ballot, which also lists the candidates. But you can vote for a party in an election without voting for any particular person. So the party selects their candidates and they may or may not demand in their internal procedures that dues are paid before they nominate, but for all anyone who has not read their internal documents knows, their candidates may not even be members (though they likely are). Membership in parties for the rank and file is treated as somewhat of a secret, and trying to find out who is a member is close to McCarthy-ism. Unless the member has an official capacity, their membership is not a matter for anyone outside the party.

Your question appears to be connected with how you register to vote. Do ballots in the US get party affiliation from what the candidates registered as when they registered to vote.

by fjallstrom on Wed Jun 8th, 2016 at 06:15:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do ballots in the US get party affiliation from what the candidates registered as when they registered to vote.

Vise versa. I believe that a party's national convention could nominate someone not even a member of their party as their presidential candidate, though I cannot think of an example. Before Truman endorsed Stevenson as the Democratic presidential candidate in '52 he had invited Eisenhower to be the candidate, but Einsenhower declined. Eisenhower had told Kansas newspaper editor Roy A. Roberts in 1947 that he was "a good Kansas Republican like yourself". Although Roberts disclosed their conversation in 1951, Americans remained uncertain of Eisenhower's politics....Eisenhower also told Lodge that he was a Republican, which Lodge revealed during a 6 January 1952 press conference. Eisenhower announced through the military that Lodge was correct, and that while he would not ask to be relieved of his NATO assignment for political reasons, if the Republican party gave him "a duty that would transcend my present responsibility" at the convention in July and nominate him, he would run. As late as December, '51 Eisenhower had met with Robert A. Taft, and offered to make a pledge not to run or serve as president if Taft agreed to support collective security with Europe, but Taft had refused. The US military code forbade serving officers from becoming active in US domestic politics, but the question of the date of Eisenhower's actual registration as a member of the Republican Party remains unclear, certainly to me. He might have been registered as a Republican since adulthood, that may or may not have remained valid and he could  simply not have been active in politics, registered or not, pursuant to the military code. Eisenhower WAS a man of principle.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jun 8th, 2016 at 09:57:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only elections where some people have to choose where to register are the EP elections if you are resident in a country that you are not a citizen of. You can either vote where you reside or in the country you are a citizen of, but you can only vote once. Since Germany has no voter registration process, every resident citizen of the union, German or not, gets a voter notification which in the small print says that it would be fraud to use it, if you vote elsewhere.
by Katrin on Wed Jun 8th, 2016 at 07:01:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks to all who contributed to this diary. I was genuinely ignorant of the details of this subject and am now much better informed.


"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 12th, 2016 at 09:10:01 AM EST
A pleasure!

But, in the context of your original question, one point I should have stressed more is that when you join a party in Europe, what you sign may be more than a simple membership form: you may be required to sign up to some written form of the party's principles. Also, the parties have detailed statutes. These form the basis of expulsions.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jun 12th, 2016 at 06:44:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The 5* movement kicks out some members if they stray from their agreement of solidarity with the platform. They can also be fined E150,000.
As can be expected a few grifters joined for their own career benefits, some were kicked out because they didn't report to HQ that they were under judicial investigation, if they didn't donate half their salary to a fund for small businesses or if there was the slightest suspicion that mob votes played a part in their success.
This kind of moral probity is unheard of in Italian politics, and they consistency has won them a lot of voters, peeled off from disenchanted citizens from right and left persuasion.
The prestigious position for Mayor of Rome is going to ballot in a week, with Virginia Raggi in pole position after primaries placed her 10+ points ahead of her closest rival. Chiara Appenndino is also showing very well in the race for Torino's mayorship.
Rome is so thoroughly steeped in corruption that governing it will be harder than a job as a minister of a department such as the economy, so much so that it is suspected the other parties want the movement to win, so they spectacularly fail at this Herculean task.

Oops, I strayed off topic, my apologies!


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 12th, 2016 at 09:43:38 PM EST
Off topic? You were quite on point. The rest is merely an example of the benefits that certain forms of organization can provide.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 12th, 2016 at 10:53:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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