|PNM General Secretary Ashton Ford and Chairman Franklin Khan. (Express Photo)|
Chairman Franklin Khan told reporters at a media conference the days of a "maximum leader" holding absolute power are about to end. "There shall be no veto power exercisable by the political leader in the selection of candidates," he explained.
The new proposal is for an eight-member screening committee to select candidates through a majority vote.
Former leader Patrick Manning used his veto to hand pick candidates for general elections. That move was highly controversial and led to him banishing top party members.
The one-member, one-vote system, which was introduced to T&T political by the founding leader of the United National Congress (UNC), has also been adopted by the Congress of the People (COP).
Khan said such a system is more democratic that the delegate system that the party has always used. "As we speak, some 875 delegates determine who the leader of the PNM should be, a party that has some 65,000 members and a party that is expanding its wings," he noted.
"It would go a long way in improving the transparency of a party that supposedly has been shrouded in secrecy over the years...everybody wants to know and be part of the democratic process," he added.
The proposed changes must be ratified by two-thirds of the delegates attending Sunday's special convention.
Among the changes is one that creates a political leader for Tobago, who would be chosen by Tobago delegates in a convention in Tobago. The Tobago leader would form part of the leadership of the PNM, he said.
The current system allows the political leader to appoint the leader in Tobago.
Speaking about the leadership of the party Khan said the person who wins must have at least 50 per cent of the popular vote. In a multi candidate election he explained that it is possible for a winner to emerge who doesn't have 50 per cent of the popular vote. When that happens, he said, there would be an instant runoff between the two candidates with the most support.
The proposed changes would see the political Leader, chairman, vice-chairman and general secretary elected for four year terms instead of five and all other officers would be elected for two years instead of one
"We have done our introspection, we have listened to the population, to the independent writers, to the editorials, to our membership and our supporters," Khan said. The changes, he added, would bring a "new dawn" for the PNM with "very robust and clear regulations" to govern the conduct of internal polls.