How do parties devise their platforms in parliamentary nations?

Who within a political party in a parliamentary nation devises the basic platform? Is it a committee of party leaders or is there a larger convention of some kind?

And follow up questions: what are the requirements, if any, for joining a political party and what privileges are there in doing so?

Finally, how frequently do independent candidates run for Parliament and how often do they win?

In Germany, and I imagine it’s not very much different in most other countries with a parliamentary system:

The larger parties have
[li]a party program (a document of essential values and policies) that has a lifetime of several parliamentary terms. For example my party, the SPD, voted party programs in 1869, 1875, 1891, 1921, 1925, 1959, 1989 and 2007. The party program is less an appeal to voters than a document that is the occasion for the party membership to readjust the party’s general ideological stance.[/li][li]an election program, on each level of government (federal, state, district, municipiality), voted on before the start of the election campaign for the next term. These election programs are prospectuses of what the party intends to do on the respective level of government during the next term.[/li][/ul]

These programs are debated and voted on
[li]on the federal and state level, and partly on the district level: by a conference of delegates elected from the membership (possibly indirectly, by state conferences of delegates)[/li][li]on the local level: directly by the membership[/li][/ul]

The requirements for joining a political party are: to fulfil the requirements of the party’s bylaws. Most parties’ only requirement are a minimum age (often 16 years), some require a length of residency in Germany or even citizenship.

The local party committee often has a right of veto over new memberships (for people that are locally known, and not in a good way).

Parties can expel members automatically if they are a member of, or run for office for, a competing party, or if they are a member of a nonparty organization considered incompatible. Parties also expel members for behaviour considering odious and bringing the party into disrepute. Expelled members can but usually do not fight their expulsion in court.

The main obligation for a party member are to pay their dues, either on a scale by income or a flat due (whether they have fulfilled that obligation can become an issue at candidate nomination time). For example I pay membership dues of 40 €/about 45 USD per month. The main right of party members are to speak and vote in local party meetings, and to be elected to party office.

Independent candidates elected: very, very rare on the federal and state level, a minority in municipial councils, very prevalent as majoral candidates in those states where mayors are elected directly as opposed by the town council.

Parliamentary parties usually have a basic platform to begin with - right centre or left usually. In the run up to an election they will publish a manifesto outlining what they intend to do specifically. This is supposed to be a collaborative document, but can often be hijacked by the leader making some off the cuff remark. They are frequently ignored once a party gets into power.

Anyone can join a party so long as they pay a subscription.

Independent candidates, often with some local b̶e̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶i̶r̶ ̶b̶o̶n̶n̶e̶t̶ cause like saving the local hospital frequently appear on ballot forms. They are rarely elected, and when they are, they become disillusioned when they find out how little power an independent MP actually has. The only exception is when the government has a slim majority, in which case they might wield some influence.

At election time the platform is called the manifesto. These are a series of pledges. Here is the Labour Party manifesto from the recent election: Labour manifesto at-a-glance: Summary of key points - BBC News

Until the election is called the opposition doesn’t have to have a general platform, in fact it often tends to oppose whatever the Gov plans to do - unless it was clearly stated in the manifesto (in which case it’s generally accepted as being the will of the people).

Anyone can join a political party, rules vary about voting once you do join.

The SDP has a membership of about 445,000 members. That works out to a significant source of funds for the party. In the US, the Democratic and Republican “parties” are really not parties at all, as they have no members. That’s right. No members. Only registered voters. Nobody pays dues. Parties are financed by whoever wants to donate so it ends up being those who have money. Does the SDP accept donations from the public, say from ThyssenKrupp?

Isn’t it generally the case that a person has to make an application, which in principle can be rejected?

Norway is fairly similar to what Mops described for Germany.

Not in Norway. I can join any of the major parties right here, right now and start going to meetings. Of course my influence as a random member will be minimal compared to someone with a history in the party and knowledge of subgroup opinions.

Norway has proportional representation party-list elections, so there are no individual independent candidates. There are however the occasional single/regional issue micro-party where it’s unlikely anyone beyond the first person on the party list will be elected.

That’s the general principle in most parliamentary systems, though exceptions exist, as has been noted by others. The parties are incorporated organisations. Normally, they have a pyramid structure, with chapters at the local, regional, and national levels (in major cities, chapters at the sub-local level, i.e. districts within a city, exist). At the lowest level, you typically have full assemblies of all members, and this assembly elects both the local board and delegates of that local chapter to an assembly at the neext higher level. That structure continues, until you have the top-level governing body of the party at national level (in Germany typically called a party congress, Parteitag in German). These party congresses are convened at regular intervals (e.g. every two years), as well as ahead of major elections, or ad hoc if there is an occasion requiring one (e.g. a reformulation of the party manifesto). These congresses elect the governing body at national level, which is a standing body. Details are governed by the statutes and by-laws of the party.

If you want to join a political party in such a system, you have to make an application to the party body which is competent for assessing such applications under that party’s by-laws. In my case (I’m a card-carrying member of a German political party), that was the board of the local chapter. There was indeed a quick kind of interview, where a friendly lady asked me over the phone about my motivation for joining, but generally these are not too intrusive - the parties are normally quite glad to recruit members, even though they do reserve the right to reject applications. The most important ground for rejection is an existing membership in another party - the parties don’t like their members to be, simultaneously, member of another party, so in your written application they ask you if this is the case, and if yes, then they will ask you to withdraw from that other party first.

Once your application is approved, you become a member of that society, you get a membership card, the right to speak and vote in party assemblies, and pay membership dues.

While most of the comments apply to Australian processes, especially for the main parties - Labor, Liberal (which runs from liberal to conservative), Nationals (formerly Country Party), there have been an increase in ‘name’ parties - Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and others.

these have had some electoral success, hitting 10% or more and having some parliamentary presence. their problem is

sorry, some stupid popup made me go early. The second para should say…

These have had some electoral success, hitting 10% or more and having some parliamentary presence. Their problem has been that they garner support as a protest against all of the incumbents while their titular head wants to keep tight control. As a result the membership processes are only nominally observed, and the policy (such as it is) still generally emerges as brainfarts from the leader. With few exceptions these parties have exploded in very ugly ways within a term. it doesnt help that a prerequisite to naming a political party after yourself is to be somewhat insane and lacking self-awareness.

cf. “Connecticut for Lieberman”

In Canada the party leaders set the platforms. In practice, I think the PM sets his own party’s with the advice of others. And similarly for the leaders of the other parties.

I was astonished by the cost of joining a party in Germany. Over CAD 700/ year. Here, it costs $10 a year for the Liberals (but Trudeau has proposed dropping even that fee) and the Conservatives have just dropped their fee to, I think, $15. I am not even a party member, but I get a couple requests every week from the Libs to donate to their party. I get a similar number of requests from the US Dems, even from IL, although I cannot vote in state or local elections.

Generally, the local party membership chooses its local candidates, subject to approval by the national leader. That approval is usually automatic, but not if the leader wants to parachute in his own candidate. There is no requirement that a candidate be an inhabitant of his district or even live in the same province.

One specific point in response to the OP - in parliamentary parties there is always a tension between being true to your party members who’ve stood by you in the dark days and being true to the electorate. The tension is greatest when you are within spitting distance of a victory, but a specific policy much loved within the party is actually a vote loser in the wider community.

Australia’s Greens party has kindly offered to illustrate my point by beginning to implode this week. A Federal level response on education funding that would have seen them get most of what they wanted, and framed the party as sensible, cooperative, big-picture useful politicians [something they desperately need] came unstuck in part because a particular state branch had a much more hardline all-or-nothing position which they were never going to get, but from which they would not budge.

Each party has different means within its constitutions for sorting out the competing demands from external-internal interests or factions, ranging from it being the leader’s call, to endless interim congresses, but its where the differences between a strong leader and a weak one will become very visible.

Is that the law in Norway? What happens if a local fascist group marches into meetings of the social democrats and start being disruptive, eg, introducing endless resolutions on immigration, prolonging debate, and generally making the meetings so unpleasant that real social democrats stop coming to meetings.

I would call this the Americanization of Canadian politics. Where does Trudeau propose to get the money to finance the work of the party? I would guess the Canadian subsidiary of Wall Street.

In Spain that’s banned; parties are supposed to get financed in part by their dues and in part from taxes.
But a lot of other US electoral practices seem very strange to people from other countries. When I was in Philadelphia, there was an email from a company VP telling us what a great dude his pal the senator was; the foreigners were freaking out, the Americans found it normal. In France, Spain or Germany such a letter would have gotten the guy fired without the usual notice period.

As for how to set up the program, in Spain each party does it in a somewhat different way. Those parties that have stronger vote discipline tend to have internal elections where the different candidates need to present a platform; some have internal referendums on specific subjects. Parties without vote discipline tend to be looser, basing the party’s platform on whatever the people who’ve been elected to party positions prefer and on what people tell them. In this second group it’s ok for someone to vote against the party’s own general decision if they disagree with it strongly enough. The party of which I’m a member is in this second group. And although Spain is definitely not Norway, anybody can become a member, pay dues and go to meetings. My party has some meetings which will accept guests of a member (sympathizers) but not people who are overdue on their payment; official meetings do not accept sympathizers. Entrance is by showing passport-equivalent ID: most people rarely need their party ID, so eventually the rule was made to accept other ID. I have no idea where my party card is, actually…

Kindly refrain from giving them ideas! :smack:

Ireland differs from the previously-mentioned countries in having a large number of independents (>20 out of 158) elected to the lower house of our national parliament. (The proportion is even higher in the Senate.)

The reason is the proportional representation voting system which is specifically designed to ensure that different interests, including minority interests, are represented at all levels of government.

Eh, Spain has a proportional system as well, but it doesn’t allow running as an independent. The whole system is based on lists, which may correspond to a party of long-standing or to an ad hoc grouping; even for Senate, where a “group” may be a single person, you need some sort of label other than your own name. So, if you’re you with yourself, you create a one-man party or group and run as that group. The village where I live has pretty complicated politics, leading to two (sometimes three) lists whose names don’t correspond to any of the big parties but everybody knows which are the ideological differences between the Independents of Aoiz and the Aoiz Independents (yes, sometimes the names have been that close).


Don’t think it’s changed, when I was younger the requirements for joining the Labor Party in Aus include *Is Not a member of any of the other parties, and *Is a member of the trade union with coverage of your job.

Also, (this because of corrupt internal politics) must pay your own membership dues (ie not paid for and signed up by somebody else). Also, in theory, be a real person, not dead or imaginary (this more of a problem in certain areas).

These membership requirements particularly important to the Labor party because decisions on the party platform are made by representatives with voting power depending on their membership base (split between party members and union members)…

The right wing party was historically in theory the complete opposite. It started as a bunch of parlimentarians who attracted a party, not a party that got some representatives. So party policy is set by the parlimentary party, and the “Organisational Wing” (the ordinary members) get to “consult” with representatives.