A few weeks back I looked at the adoption of community preselection by NSW Labor for its Sydney Lord Mayor candidate and touched on the history of community involvement in preselections in Australia.
While it was first flagged by Labor in the 2010 National Review, it is not an original idea nor is it limited to Australia. Discussions about community involvement have been prominent in the United Kingdom for the past few years. The Fabians blog Next Left has covered the debate about primaries within the Labour Party quite substantially and Labour pressure group Progress has been a notable supporter. More recently, the Refounding Labour to Win interim report, released by the British Labour Party in 2011, flagged that:
further consideration should be given to the proposal that registered supporters should be able to vote in the Leadership Elections in the affiliated organisations section of the Electoral College.
The original idea for community involvement in preselections seems to be a bit older than the recent debates here and in the United Kingdom. It seems to be from a publication by the New Politics Network (now Unlock Democracy). entitled Broadening Participation: Beyond Party Membership from a decade ago. It was released in 2003 and discussed a range of ways to reform internal party structures and involve the growing numbers of supporters who may not become members of political parties.
An electronic copy of the publication is available here. It’s worth looking at to understand the original rationale behind community involvement preselections & other ideas of how to increase community involvement in decisions made by political parties.