Intra-party democracy (IPD) is a set of provisions political parties should practice to decentralise power in the party and to allow fair and inclusive membership participation.
Proponents of IPD argue that the level of commitment to uphold democratic governance by a political party can be determined by inspecting to what extent the political party
upholds democratic governance within the party. Overly centralised power and the abuse of power within political parties in various countries, including South Africa, is a systemic problem.
A democratic political party should institutionalise the following intra-party democracy provisions:
• Decentralised and inclusive party elections
• Decentralised and inclusive policy-making
• Fair disciplinary rules and disciplinary outcomes
• Freedom of expression, association and assembly
Implementing IPD is important for any political party so as to allow members to vote for party leadership and policies, allow members to freely express their views and opinions, avoid the abuse of power by senior party officials, be transparent of party affairs and operations and to conform to democratic norms in the party and in public office
South Africa has not enforced IPD because the legal character of a political party is that of a voluntary association. As a voluntary association, a political party has the authority to prescribe the relationship between the political party and its’ members in its party constitution.
MVC will be looking into the criteria for IPD including fair and inclusive candidate selection procedures and policy-making processes; fair disciplinary procedures; the protection of
freedom of speech; the inclusion of diversity provisions in terms of race, gender and age; upholding and protecting civil liberties; and upholding transparency and accountability.
MVC will also measure the extent to which South African political parties uphold or institutionalise IPD by looking at which of the mentioned criteria these parties fulfil.
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