(A work in progress.)
An introduction to the Harmony democracy
This serves as a more in-depth version of the “Short Guide” found in the Party Library. Its current scope is fairly narrow. It will likely be presented in a more pretty format in the near future.
In many parties you simply elect people who do certain jobs, and that’s that. Harmony isn’t like that: it is not a representative democracy.
Instead, it has elements of both deliberative and consensus democracy. We do not elect people to “represent our wishes” or “make decisions on our behalf”.
We do not need representatives: we can speak for ourselves, and vote for ourselves, and stand up for ourselves. In so doing, we think we can make our community more powerful: we can and will amplify each other as well as (probably!) argue with each other, and, where our ideas eventually intersect in consensus, we create the opportunity for new ideas to grow and flourish.
As such, Harmony is composed of a series of smaller democracies, called assemblies collectively. Each assembly obtains consensus on each matter it approaches by means of discussion, debate, and, if there remain multiple options after a reasonable period of discussion & debate, we use the STAR vote to not only determine the choice of the assembly members, but also their relative enthusiasm for each option for future understanding of our consensus.
We seek not just the “letter” of the will of our members, but also the spirit thereof.
A brief introduction to assemblies
As seen above, there are two levels of consensus. The “lower” moot level is regarded as party consensus but is overridden automatically by any decision made at the higher level of consensus; lower level clashes of consensus must be resolved by a higher level (“Party Thing”) decision. Committees may call for an All Thing to resolve conflicts between the consensus of their working groups.
Once larger, the Party may hold regular conferences, also referred to as All Things, where decisions will be binding in the same fashion and taken in the same fashion as well.
The method of making a decision at the lower level is a moot or assembly moot. This is a “small” meeting (although it may in fact involve a large sampling of the Membership if many are interested).
The larger form is called an All Thing or Party Thing.
To give an example: if the Media Working Group decides that it wants to run some ads on social media about a decision by the Harmony Policy Society for Defence (a society working group), regarding Trident, but the Committee for Presentation of Policy has a pre-existing consensus decision allocating the same funds to a different campaign, the Committee trumps the Society.
Harmony & consensus
Consensus itself is determined in three phases (or four if we count the event which caused the need for consensus in the first place):
- Discussion & proposal
- Resolution, either by verbal consensus or voting consensus
The General Secretary suggests that any “assembly business” discussion which results in a “division” in an assembly should result in the Secretary of that assembly calling for a debate & vote to resolve that division, with a specific meeting (physical or virtual) to be called (inside Party rules) if need be.
The voting phase always requires the use of the STAR vote system.
STAR stands for “Score then Automatic Runoff”. The process for STAR is as follows:
Voters are given a ratings ballot in which they are asked to score each candidate with a number, ranging 0 to 5, where “0” is worst and “5” is best. In the first round of the ballot counting phase, the scores for each candidate are summed.
The winners of the first round are the two candidates (or options) with the highest scores. In the automatic-runoff round, the candidate which was given a higher score on a greater number of ballots is selected as the winner.
This system will be used for both consensus decisions and the election of Party Officers.
Consensus however is not just these decisions, but the complex web of them, which will form, as a whole, the way we operate as a Party, our patterns of behaviour, our means of interacting with the public, and how we go about seeking to contest the next General Election.
Everything about the Party – everything from our ad campaigns to our eventual Manifestos – will be decided by this web of consensus; determined wholly by interactions of Members with Members.
Assembly Secretaries, and the Council of Secretaries
The Assembly Secretaries are always elected. They are, categorically, not leaders. They are instead organisers.
Each assembly elects one Assembly Secretary, and, if the Secretary requires additional support that is better delegated to another elected official than to another member, then Deputy Secretarial elections are advised for that assembly.
It is suggested that Assemblies have at least 4 members before elections occur, but, obviously, a much larger number is ideal, and should an Assembly grow significantly, a Secretary ought to offer a re-election. Members may also simply petition for an election to trigger replacement of the Secretary, however. Such petitions should be delivered to the General Secretary (and should always be physical copy, with actual signatures).
Informally, the Assembly Secretaries are a body called the Council of Secretaries, who shall occasionally, as they see fit, hold meetings to discuss the operational organisation of assemblies. These meetings must however then be reported, with full minutes, to the Operational Working Group & the Secretarial Committee for analysis.
The Party Secretaries, and the Secretarial Committee
The Party Secretaries are a special body who oversee day to day operations of the Party on behalf of the Membership, but who are restrained to act only inside the provisions granted by the consensus of the Party. They must always be Members of the Party. They are not currently paid, but the constitution allows for them to be full-time employees of the Party as well as Members. It also allows for them to employ people in the interest of the Party, though this is unlikely to happen particularly soon!
Almost all of the Party Secretaries are to be elected, with the notable exception of the Treasurer:
- the General Secretary
- the Secretary of the Committee for Resolutions
- the Secretary of the Operational Working Group
- the Treasurer (appointed)
- the Secretary for the Constituencies Society
- the Secretary of the Media Working Group
- the Secretary for the Activism Society
It is worth noting that the Committee for Resolutions technically has four Secretaries; the three Secretaries of Resolution however have an entirely different role to the Secretary of the Committee for Resolutions, who is simply an elected organiser like any other Assembly Secretary.
Currently, only the General Secretary is in post, and thus they are effectively fulfilling all of the roles of the Party Secretaries for the time being in terms of day-to-day Party operations. As we grow, however, the General Secretary’s role shrinks to that of being simply an orchestrator of orchestrators & a member among members.
Once the Party Secretaries are elected, their number in meeting will be referred to as the Secretarial Committee.
Who leads the Party?
As has been stated many times but quite possibly is a bit hard to believe, the Membership does. On paper we have a decision to make later about who will be the nominal “leader of the Party”, but in practice this will not matter a great deal, and will likely ultimately simply be a media-savvy candidate who serves as a face of the party – or a member in-office.
We are funded entirely by our Members, and by small donations (<£500 per individual per year). Organisations may seek to donate to the Party but only with the special permission of the Membership.