Tue | Dec 1, 2020

How the PNP chooses its delegates

Published:Wednesday | July 31, 2019 | 12:26 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer

The majority of the People’s National Party (PNP) delegates who will vote in the September 7 presidential poll will come from the party’s groups islandwide and its National Executive Council (NEC).

The NEC, which is the PNP’s highest decision-making body outside of annual conference, will provide nearly 350 delegates for the run-off in which the incumbent, Dr Peter Phillips, will face off with Peter Bunting.

PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson explained that a ‘recognised constituency’ is entitled to two NEC members, and one from each unrecognised constituency.

“To be a recognised constituency, you need a minimum of 20 groups, plus a Youth Organisation and Women’s Movement group,” Robinson said yesterday. “Constituencies are not allowed to have more groups than the number of polling divisions, and where such breaches occur, the party will take the necessary action to correct them. It is a new rule, and there are some constituencies in breach and they are working to bring it back in line to the number of polling divisions.”

“Each recognised group with 10-19 members is entitled to one delegate. A group with 20 or more is entitled to two delegates,” Deputy General Secretary Senator Wensworth Skeffery explained.

According to Skeffery, party groups, which are named in the PNP constitution, must be operational for a minimum of seven months to be recognised, and must be in good financial standing, and hold annual conferences before August. The party’s national annual conference is held on the third weekend of September each year.

The party structure is also divided into six regions, with one delegate per constituency.

“For example, in the party’s Region Five, there are eight constituencies. That region is entitled to no more than eight delegates. Depending on the state of a constituency, in a particular region, no delegate may be chosen. So all eight delegates may come from one constituency,” Skeffery explained.

AFFILIATE GROUPS

PNP affiliates such as the National Workers’ Union (NWU) and the youth/adult professional arm The Patriots are also among the main source of delegates, he pointed out.

The Granville Valentine-led NWU provides at least 50 delegates, the Patriots 30, and councillors who are not NEC members are automatic delegates.

The party has no say in who are delegates from affiliates.

There has been some furore over the selection of NWU delegates ahead of the upcoming internal leadership battle. An NWU representative yesterday told The Gleaner that delegates from that body have been selected using the same process employed for more than 25 years.

The union’s selection criteria specify that a delegate has to be a Comrade, a fully paid-up member of the party, a member of the NWU, or a worker representative who “adds value to the union and its work”.

It was not immediately clear how the Patriots select its delegates, as the head of the body could not be reached yesterday.

Some 2,800 delegates will select the party president at the September 7 special delegates’ conference.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com