Of Primaries and Super Delegates

Today, the Malta Labour Party delegates, convened in an Extraordinary General Conference, will decide whether to ammend Article 1 of Chapter VI of the Party statute dealing with the manner in which the party leader is elected. The current method of electing a leader is simply at the discretion of the party delegates (approximately 900 - 920). The proposal that has been brought forward, however, suggests that all paid-up party members should be able to vote (approximately 19,000). This is the first time in the history of the Malta Labour Party that a motion like this has been called.

Let me say that I agree with the proposal but that I have some reservations. I agree with the proposal because it has more democratic impetus; the wider the voting base, the more democratic the election. It is a proposal of direct democracy (the people vote) over representative democracy (representatives of the people vote), which is admirable.

This is a radical change, the first of its kind in the history of Maltese party politics, should the motion be passed. You may say I'm a radical person by nature, speaking about divorce and abortion, and what not. Yes I believe that these issues need to be discussed but discussion takes time. Despite my 'radical' nature I believe that lengthy open discussions and debates for these issues, although heated at times, will lead to more rational conclusions. Therefore, one of my reservations, as you may have already guessed, is that the MLP and its delegates should take more time in discussing the matter rather than a mere 1 hour and a half.

I also suggest that ones studies the position of Primary Elections like those held in the USA. A primary election is an election in which voters in a jurisdiction select candidates for a subsequent election. In other words, primary elections are one means by which a political party nominates candidates for the following general election. The Democratic Party of the USA also uses the system of Super-Delegates which will act as a check on ideologically extreme candidates and the general voters (in the USA they don't even have to be party affiliated) for the leadership election. In the USA If there is no clear winner after state primaries and caucuses, then the super-delegates -- who are bound only by their consciences -- will decide the nominee. In this way, both members of the party and both the delegates have a role to play.

One must wait and see what the future has in store for the MLP.

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2 Responses to Of Primaries and Super Delegates

Keith Grech said...

The problem with the USA system of primaries is precisely that, as is happening in the case of the US Democratic Party, the candidates are attacking each other rather than the Republican party. In this way they are not only wasting resources but also providing ample ammuition which the Republican party will maximise come November. Unless the Democrats do something fast to sole their current impass, Senator McCain and the Republican Party risk having a field day come November. And as to the issue of Super-Delegates, as has been stated by President Carter, himself a super-delegate, the issue does arise as to how legitimate (though legal) would it be for the Super-Delegates to vote in a way that is not reflective of the votes cast by the general public in the primaries. In other words, in the current scenario where Senator Obama is leading in the delegate count, would it be morally right for the Super-Delegates to sway the nomination away from Senator Obama in favour of Senator Clinton? The party statute says that they can, but would this be the right thing to do?

Andrew Sciberras said...

Well yeah, in all things there are the pros and cons. One must consider all the possibilities and all the routes. Perhaps the MLP can also take a look at the British One Member One Vote (OMOV) system. Or perhaps it can extend the amount of delegates to widen the base. I'm definitely not a technical expert in the field but I'm glad the MLP at least discussed this issue. I wonder if its still in the books?

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