Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Slating Democracy

As I'm sure the terminally insomniacal among you may know, the proposed new European Commission faces being rejected en bloc because one member, Rocco Buttiglione, might not be suitable for his proposed brief.

That is, further to my discussions on democracy below, MEP's do not have the power to appoint/remove commissioners. They are appointed by the president, and are collectively responsible to the commission first and foremost. MEP's can only remove the whole commission if one of it's members is not up to snuff. This is obviously a way of limitting democracy and democratic input, since it means that commissioners share an interest in covering each others backs rather than trying to protect their own by doing their job properly.

As I noted, this system is commonly used in left sects for appointment of Central Committees.

For once we can see this process openly in action. Respect (SWP front) has a proposed constitution here, which proposes
4.3) The NC will be elected by annual conference by alternative slates and will meet at least 6 times a year. The alternative slate system means that voting will be indicated by order of preference between slates presented for election. If no slate has an absolute majority the slate with the least votes will be eliminated until a slate receives an absolute majority. Movers of slates should seek to take into account the issues of gender, ethnicity, regionality and political affiliation and/or platform. It is important that women are fully represented and the aim should be at least the gender balance of the Respect membership.
That is, the NC must be elected en bloc in the same stich up way that teh European Commission is. Now, we can see from here that there is only one slate, apparently, being put forward (quelle surprise). That means delegates (not members, delegates at the conference) will either have to reject or accept the slate as preesented. Any Respect members who, say, may not want Gorgeous George Galloway on the National Committee will find they cannot specifically oppose his presence, they would have to vote against Lyndsey German as well, no matter how much they adore her.

Further, the provisional constitution further states:
4.4) An Executive Committee (EC) will be elected by the NC, from its members, to act on its behalf between its meetings and to carry out such duties as it decides. The EC will meet between NC meetings at a frequency it deems necessary. The NC will also elect the officers of Respect: National Secretary, Chair, Treasurer, Election Agent, Press Officer, Research Officer and other officers it deems necessary. Officers should normally be members of the EC.
So, not only will an NC be elected only by Delegates, but the NC will Elect an EC, that runs the day-to-day business. At least Labour Party members, for all it's bureaucratic stich-uppery, get to vote for their NEC directly. Or compare Respect's constitution with that of a relatively ossified and bureaucratic trade union's.


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