Wednesday, August 17, 2011

NDP Doesn't Have Leadership Selection Process

The NDP has an interim leader but doesn't have a process to elect a real one.

Hopefully the New Democratic Party doesn't have to worry about this for a long time, but it is odd that it is the only party without a leadership selection process.

According to the NDP's hidden constitution, hidden because it is also the only party that does not include its constitution on its website, there is no process outlined for selecting a permanent NDP Leader.

Instead of a weighted vote system that the Conservatives and the Liberals have written into their constitutions, the NDP vaguely maintains that while every member gets a vote, the Party's Council can determine any process in which that vote is counted.

Considering the many different leadership selection systems that are possible which satisfy the one constitutional requirement that every member gets a vote, to NDP members it can only be unsettling that there are no concrete rules for electing their leader.

The NDP, in not having a clear selection process in their constitution, will only make a bad situation worse, for when they do need a permanent leader, far after Jack Layton has put in another decade, they will not only be trying to fill his void but prevent manipulation and unfair selection processes that only favour certain candidates.

NDP members could have their votes weakened as was the case in 2003 where 25% of the vote was guaranteed to labour groups or they could have a true one-member-one-vote system and have rural areas completely ignored by the vote-rich urban centers. These are just some options that the NDP's Council could foist onto the membership, possibly ensuring one candidate wins while others lose, and no one could do anything about it.

The NDP, to avoid the possible calamity of a tainted or disputed leadership process, needs to realize that planning for all eventualities is not planning for the worst, it is planning to prevent it.

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The NDP Constitution vaguely describing the party's leadership selection process:

"Leader: (i) The Leader shall be elected by secret ballot.
(ii) Every member is entitled to cast a ballot for the selection of the Leader.
(iii) Candidates for the leadership with the fewest number of votes will drop off the ballot in subsequent rounds until one candidate receives 50% plus one or more of the total votes cast in that round. The Council shall determine other leadership selection guidelines."

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