Oxfam engages workshop with political parties on party conventions

By Burnett Munthali

Oxfam is this morning conducting an engagement workshop with six major political parties on party conventions and strategies for promoting women,youth and people with disabilities in political processes and leadership.

Oxfam country director Lingalireni Mihowa says the meeting is aimed at discussing strategies and preparations for effectively promoting women and young people in the forth coming elections.

Gender minister Jean Sendeza believes formulation of deliberate policies can promote women in politics.

Oxfam in collaboration with Women Legal and Resource Centre (WORLEC) are implementing a five year project on Promoting Gender Transformative and Youth Inclusive Democracy in Malawi.

Every major election cycle, particularly those that lead to a presidential election, features a convention for the participating political parties. These conventions serve as a meeting of party delegates, coming together to nominate party candidates for office and establishing the party’s platform.

Less formally, conventions get party delegates and members organized and excited for an upcoming election day. This is a crucial step in preparing for the general election. It encourages people to become registered voters and increases voter registration turnout.

Conventions can occur at several local, statewide, or national levels. The most significant party conventions in Malawi are the national conventions of the Malawi Congress Party and Democratic Progressive Party and the United Democratic Party. These conventions are crowd pullers and happen every five years before a presidential election.

Thousands of people attend national conventions. The attendees include activists, party officials, election officials, volunteers, local business leaders, and news media.

National conventions have their roots in the early 1800s. At that time, members of Congress would meet with their party caucuses to determine a nominee. But as more newly settled western states started clashing with eastern states over nominee choices, a convention to resolve the matter became practical.

Those tensions set the tone for the 1824 Democratic-Republican convention. Factions of delegates refused to back the nominee endorsed by the party caucus.

Nowadays, thanks to the party’s primary elections, it’s rare that a nominee hasn’t been mostly decided on before a party convention begins. The last time a national party convention contained any drama regarding the nominee was in 1976. Here, delegates could not decide between President Gerald Ford and challenger Ronald Reagan.

Political parties in hold national conventions to select presidential and vice presidential nominees. In Malawi, they hold national conventions to select presidential and vice presidential nominees are picked by the presidential candidates.

In Malawi, the convention is important because it offers party members a chance to gather together and discuss the party’s platform. The platform is the party’s stance on the political issues of the day. For a long time in the past, the convention was a place for political debate, and important decisions were made there.