Party congress

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Christian Ude the SPD - Federal Party in 2001 in Nuremberg

A party congress is an articles of association - and party legally provided collegial body of officials and members of a political party , the factual, financial and personnel policies discussed the party and sets. The election of the party leader , his deputy and the presidium also takes place at party congresses. A party congress is a special form of a general assembly under association law . In Germany it is in Section 9 and Section 13 of the Political Parties Act regulated.

Structural background

At most party congresses, not all party members are present, but only a fixed number of delegates for organizational reasons . The level at which these are elected depends on the size of the congress and the party. In Germany, for example, the local associations usually delegate at a district or sub-district party convention, while the regional associations or districts usually send delegates to parties with a large number of members, whereas the district associations send delegates to parties with fewer members . In many parties, board members are also delegated by office . A delegation according to the type of membership is also possible (but unusual); for civil parties z. B. according to work sectors such as employees , entrepreneurs , farmers , youth , senior citizens , etc.

In the United States , delegates will be the nomination party days before the presidential elections against it in the so-called primaries ( primaries selected) directly by the people.

In the large German people 's parties , delegate party conferences are often still common, even at district level. In order to involve more members in the fundamental decisions of the district party, more and more district party conferences are held in the form of member party conferences, at which all members are entitled to vote . Some regional associations even stipulate through their statutes that district party conferences are to be held as member party conferences. The objection to the introduction of member congresses is often that they weaken the influence of the local associations and encourage manipulation (for example, by choosing a conference location close to one's own local association and away from a competing local association).

Since parties are associations at the same time , German association law is to be applied to them analogously in Germany . A party congress is therefore the same as an annual general meeting - and is also referred to as such on regional associations of the lowest level in accordance with Section 9 (1) of the PartG.

A party congress is usually headed by a presidium, which leads the assembly. There is also often a so-called application committee , which processes applications from individuals or groups in advance in order to ensure that the party congress runs smoothly, as well as a counting committee , which is responsible for counting the votes in written votes or elections.

Types of party conferences in Germany

Ordinary party congress

An ordinary party congress is intended to ensure that internal party democracy functions in accordance with the statutes . At these party congresses, which take place at regular intervals, z. B. Assigned party offices. As a rule, every major party has a regular congress every one to two years to elect the party executive. Before elections , an election manifesto is often decided at party congresses .

Extraordinary party congress

An Extraordinary Party Congress is held outside of the regular party congresses. This usually happens for an important reason that should not be postponed, for example when due to unforeseen events legitimation under party law is required, e. B. Election of a new party chairman (or area chairman ) or the factual decision in a coalition or government crisis . An example was provided by the SPD in 2004, when the then Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder handed over the chairmanship to the parliamentary group leader Franz Müntefering . An Extraordinary Party Congress is also often used to confirm a coalition agreement .

Colloquially and in the media, the term special party conference is often used for this .

Federal party congress

Federal delegates' conference of the Greens

The national party is under the statutes of most parties, the highest decision-making body at the federal level . According to the German political party law , this is mandatory. In the case of the Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen party , the federal party conference is called the federal assembly or (unofficially) the federal delegate conference.

Participants in the party congress are usually delegates from the lower levels, e.g. B. State associations, district associations or district associations. Also based party conventions in which all members can participate directly, are possible. The number of delegates is usually based on the number of members of a party in the relevant regional association. Alternatively, the division can also be partially based on the number of votes in public elections of the party in the area of ​​the sub-association. According to Section 13 of the Political Parties Act, however, at least half of the delegate rights must be calculated based on the number of members. Details are regulated in the statutes of the respective party.

The federal party congress, for example, decides on the basic program , elects the federal executive board, nominates the candidate for chancellor , makes decisions on coalitions with other parties for the purpose of forming a government and can continue to make decisions on any topic that affects the party. Some parties differentiate between "large" and "small" party conferences (in the case of Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen, the latter would be the state council ). The latter, however, are formally not party congresses in the narrower sense of the party law, but so-called party committees according to § 12 PartG.

Special federal party conferences are those at which the candidates for the European elections are put up, as this is the only election in Germany where nationwide party lists exist. They are often called the European Party Congress.

Lists of federal party conferences of German parties

State party conference

The state party congress is the highest body of a political party at the state level . As a rule, it consists of the state general assembly or the delegates of the district associations , who are elected by their general assemblies (sometimes also delegate assemblies with delegates from the local associations ).

He elects the state board of the party and determines its basic program and election programs at state level.

Meeting of representatives

Party conventions, which draw up the candidates and lists for public elections, are often called representatives' assemblies. For example, in the case of federal elections, the special provisions of Sections 21 - 28 BWahlG apply to them .

Unification convention

A union convention is a party meeting at which two (or more) parties come together to form one.


In other countries

United States

The US parties play only a minor role in everyday political life outside of the elections. Between the above-mentioned nomination party conferences , which normally only take place every four years , they are chaired by so-called National Committees (comparable to small party conferences) , which, however, mainly perform administrative tasks (see DNC and RNC ). Political representation is incumbent on the party leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives, as well as (if he belongs to the party) the president .

United Kingdom

Every year between September and October (during the recess of the House of Commons ), the congresses of the British parties meet. However, they too have less influence than German parties; in most parties the party leaders are elected in the parliamentary groups .

Communist countries

In real socialist countries, which are usually governed by a one-party dictatorship , the Communist Party usually meets every few years for the party congress, the highest party organ. These bodies, which are made up of party cadres , cannot be compared to democratic party congresses, however, as there is no debate and the decisions of the Politburo are always unanimously approved. Examples of this are the party congress of the Communist Party of China or the former congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union .

Online party conventions and general meetings

Before the information age came , it was taken for granted that general meetings, including party conventions, had to be held as "face-to-face meetings". H. a speech - and the right to vote had only physical attendees. The wording of the party law shows that the authors of the law were not yet aware of the problem involved.

Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen Baden-Württemberg held an experimental "virtual party congress" in 2000 and then anchored this body in the statutes of the state association, but did not convene it again.

To date, the legal literature has hardly taken up the topic of “online general meetings or party conventions for political parties”. Section 32 of the Civil Code initially stipulates in its Paragraph 1 that affairs of the association are to be settled in principle by resolutions at a general meeting; In contrast, Paragraph 2 of the same paragraph regulates a statutory exception to the requirement of physical presence at meetings aimed at making resolutions and thus opens the door to the possibility of online meetings. The association also enjoys extensive freedom in accordance with Section 40 of the German Civil Code (BGB) with regard to the design of its internal organizational structure in the association's statutes. It is therefore not allowed to abolish the general assembly, which is required by § 32 BGB as an essential tool for opinion-forming in the association, but it can regulate how the decision-making process within the organ of the general assembly should take place. The online meeting is such a modality of the meeting arranged in Section 32 (1) of the German Civil Code (BGB).

A practical problem with online general meetings and party conferences is the requirement of Section 15 (2) of the German Political Parties Act, according to which party elections must be conducted in secret. Because of the difficulties involved , the Federal Constitutional Court banned the use of voting machines on March 3, 2009 . The electoral principle of “general” elections according to Art. 38 GG, which also applies analogously to elections within parties, is also a problem as long as the phenomenon of digital divide exists.

The Berlin Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information holds voting under a "virtual meeting" where real names be used and can be where easily determine which vote a tuning has given, unlawful: " The democratic decision-making process of a party is constitutionally by no means a general knowledge of the voting behavior of the members beforehand; on the contrary, the possibility of secret votes is a democratic precaution that protects minorities. If, through the clear name principle in the LQFB , votes are generally to be traceable by name, this runs counter to the constitutional requirements of a democratic party structure. "

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic , many parties have held their party conferences in 2020 and 2021 digitally or partially digitally.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Party congress  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Upper limit according to Section 9 (5) of the PartG
  2. ^ Heinrich Böll Foundation : A Chronology of the Federal Party Conventions of Alliance 90 / The Greens. There it says, among other things: “The terms“ Federal Assembly ”or“ Federal Delegate Conference ”are synonymous with the term“ Federal Party Congress ”. The Articles of Alliance 90 / The Greens introduced the term "Federal Assembly" in the parlance the term "Federal Delegates Conference" (BDK) is common. " .
  3. ^ What Is a Political Convention? . August 29, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  4. What happens at party conferences? . In: BBC , September 13, 2007. Retrieved May 22, 2015. 
  5. Till Westermayer: Political online communication under suspicion of reality: The Virtual Party Congress of Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen Baden-Württemberg ( Memento from July 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 166 kB), Kommunikation @ Gesellschaft, 2003.
  6. Patrizia Robbe / Alexandra Tsesis: Patrizia Robbe: Online party congresses ( Memento from January 3, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). German Bundestag / Scientific Services, November 29, 2011, p. 5f.
  7. Berlin Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information: Letter to the Pirate Party Germany Berlin (PDF; 82 kB). October 2, 2012, accessed February 10, 2013.