When the news announces the winner of a primary election, people often believe that the story is over. But that’s far from true—the results of the popular vote are just the beginning!
After a primary vote, each state party has a state convention where the real action takes place. And as a state party, Democrats Abroad is seeing a lot of action this weekend in Berlin as it holds its “Global Convention.”
The main event at any state convention is the selection of the delegates who will represent the state party at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and that process is often arcane and convoluted. Let’s take a minute to demystify it.
Back in March, when DA finished tabulating the record number of votes cast in its Global Presidential Primary, Senator Sanders carried the day with nearly 70% of the total vote. As a result, DA assigned 70% of its 13 delegates (or a total of 9) to represent the Senator, and the remaining 4 to represent Secretary Clinton.
But as a global organization, things get more complicated in DA! We have three regions—EMEA, Americas, and Asia-Pacific—and 9 of our 13 “at-large” delegates (are allocated across those three regions. So that meant that 5 delegates were given to EMEA (3 for Bernie, 2 for Hillary), 2 to Asia-Pacific (1 and 1) and 2 to the Americans (again, 1 and 1). The four remaining delegates are not bound to a specific region.
Any member of DA was eligible to stand as a candidate for delegate, and 88 members filed to be Hillary delegates, while 211 wanted to support Bernie. The campaigns have a right to review the applications, and when that review was completed, there were 87 candidates remaining for Hillary, and 30 for Bernie. The campaigns made those decisions alone on the basis of criteria that were determined by them.
But we’re not done yet! Each country is also assigned a relative voting strength based on the level of voter participation in the Global Presidential Primary. The UK did an outstanding job with voter turnout, so will have a lot more voting strength than, say, Zambia.
So what’s going to happen in Berlin? Three things.
First, on Thursday, Democrats Abroad will have its general business meeting This will include a discussion of our platform and various proposals concerning the governance of the organization.
But then on Friday, the real excitement begins! Each region will hold a caucus, and within that caucus, all those electors who support Bernie will go in one room to elect their delegate(s), and all those who support Hillary will go in another to elect theirs. Voting will proceed in rounds, with a 15% threshold to pass on to the second round. So for example, in the Hillary room in EMEA, there will be 40+ candidates in the first round, but only a handful of those will get 15% of the total vote and pass on to the second round, and this will proceed until one candidate has 50%+1 of the vote. That person will then be a member of the DA delegation. Candidates are lobbying for support from various countries, especially those with greater voting strength, in the hopes of getting a ticket to Philadelphia. The wheeling and dealing will continue on Saturday, as the entire body elects the four remaining at-large delegates
But wait! There’s more! The Delegation also must be gender-balanced, a requirement of the Democratic Party. And DA has set for itself a number of goals to make sure that members of traditionally underrepresented groups are indeed represented in the delegation.
So whenever you read stories in the American press about “the delegate fight”—and there have been many of them recently—this is what they’re talking about, at least in part. And this is why the story doesn’t end when the news announces the winner of a primary election !
We’ll be updating you throughout the weekend with news from Berlin, so stay tuned!