21 December 2011

US Primary Elections

The election for the president of the United States occurs on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.  In 2012 this date will fall on November 6th. On that day the two main political parties will have their candidate’s name written on the ballot.

But how does each party choose the candidate it wants to back up for president? That’s where primary elections (or as they are better known, primaries) come into play. Primaries are elections in which party members or voters select prospective presidential candidates from a set of contestants. Primary elections are one way by which a political party nominates candidates for the next general election.

Outside the US, primaries are not that common mainly because in other countries the selection of the leader is the responsibility of the political party itself and does not involve the general public. One exception close to Malta took place when Italy, in 2009, the Italian Democratic Party opted for primaries to select the party’s Secretary. In this election 17-year olds were allowed to vote.

Back to the USA, the Democratic Party will not hold primaries this election because President Obama is not being contested. During the early stages of the campaign there were rumors that the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton would attempt another go at the presidency but she has declared that she did not intend to run. Even though the Democrats’ presidential candidate is not being contested, the Democratic National Convention to be held in North Carolina still has to confirm President Obama.

On the Republican ticket the contestants still in the run are Fred S. Karger, Gary Johnson, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Buddy Roemer and Rick Perry. On January 3rd, Iowa will kick off the primaries. As the months roll by, the prospective candidates will gain delegates who will vote for them in the 2012 Republican National Convention that will be held in August 2012. As the weeks pass, candidates who feel they do not have a chance will pull out of the race and will transfer any of the delegates they would have won to someone still in the running. At the end of it all, one candidate will take the party to the polls.

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