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Open primaries: should the Lib Dems adopt the ‘Totnes model’?

The announcement today from Totnes of the winner of the Tories’ first ‘open primary’ – in which the party’s Parliamentary candidate has been chosen not by party members, but by over 16,000 voters in the constituency – will prompt all political parties to ask the simple question: is this the future?

The arguments in its favour are obvious, both in terms of ‘democratic renewal’ and canny campaigning:

  • it has provoked national interest;
  • the 25% turnout suggests an appetite among the electorate;
  • the winning candidate has a genuine mandate;
  • her name recognition will have been boosted;
  • there has been communication with the whole constituency.
  • On which basis, you’d conclude it’s a no-brainer: surely every constituency which can remotely afford to run an open primary should adopt the principle. Well, perhaps. But of course it’s not quite that simple.

    Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 31 Comments
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