Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties - Vol. 1

By M. Ostrogorski; Frederick Clarke | Go to book overview
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FIFTH CHAPTER
THE SUPREME GOVERNMENT IN THE CAUCUS

WHILE generally superintending the party in the constituency and wielding in it supreme authority, which aims even at its constitutional representative, the M. P., the Association is nevertheless not an autonomous power. It forms part of a vast federation which extends over the whole country and which rises on the base of the local Associations with a central Organization in London for its apex. The Federation lives by them, but the force which it derives from them gives an impulse to each of them. The ties which bind them to the central Organization, as well as the nature and effects of the impulse which they receive from it, will appear from the investigation of the working of the great central party Organizations on which we are about to enter.


I

The Liberal Federation -- which we will examine the first, as the most developed type of the English caucus system -- has preserved, with a few unimportant modifications, the machinery with which it had been provided from its start at Birmingham: the deliberative power is represented in the first instance by the Council, or general assembly of the delegates of all the federated Associations and of the Liberal Members of the House of Commons meeting once a year and constituting the parliament of the party; in the second place, by the General Committee, formed on the same basis, but composed of a smaller number of delegates, its principal duty being to appoint the executive committee, with the power of giving it instructions from time to time and of bringing before the federated Associations the political questions and measures on which it is desirable to unite the party. The Executive Committee, which

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