Setting the Agenda

  • Florence Faucher-King


One of the roles of political parties in a democratic system is the aggregation of interests and the elaboration of policy proposals. National conferences and congresses are generally regarded as the forum where major policy debates take place and where strategic decisions are taken. Parties that claim to be democratic, as social democratic and Green parties do, purport that conferences also allow the grassroots to have an input to the policy process and hold their leaders to account. In most continental European parties, the congress is gathered every two or three years to select the party leadership on the basis of a general programmatic motion. Sometimes, several texts and groups are in competition and a vote decides on the dominant coalition. These general motions do not usually address specific policy details. They state policy goals and political orientations for the next three years. In the German SPD, a draft motion is produced by a special committee including experts, ministers, elected representatives and party officials. It is discussed by local branches who can submit amendments in detail. Ultimately the congress rarely makes substantial changes to the original, so the apex of the meeting is the election of the party president and the executive committee. In the French Parti Socialiste (PS), factions that want to assess their strength in the party propose a draft each.


Steam Assure Hull Reso Kelly 


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© Florence Faucher-King 2005

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  • Florence Faucher-King

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