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In a governmental system, a party leader acts as the official representative of their political party, either to a legislature or to the electorate. Depending on the country, the individual colloquially referred to as the "leader" of a political party may officially be party chair, secretary, or the highest political office.
The party leader is often responsible for managing the party's relationship with the general public and leading the competition against political rivals, similar to the role of a party spokesperson. As such, they will take a leading role in developing and communicating party platforms to the electorate.
In many representative democracies, party leaders compete directly for high political office. It is thus typical in such states (notably in the Westminster system) for the party leader to seek election to the legislature and, if elected, to simultaneously serve as the party's parliamentary leader. In several countries utilizing the parliamentary system, if the party leader's political party emerges with a majority of seats in parliament after a general election, is the leading party in a coalition government, or (in some instances) is the largest party in a minority parliament, that party's leader often serves as the prime minister. Thus, in the politics of several countries utilizing the parliamentary system, a political party's leader is treated as a de facto candidate for prime minister by the media and the general public, even if said office is technically not directly elected.
Party Head or leader of a political party, subject to party's constitutional document need not be elected member of legislature and is therefore different from leader of parliamentary committee of a party.
This is much harder to do in presidential and semi-presidential systems, where the chief executive is a president who can only be removed by a special impeachment (typically involving a legislative supermajority, an investigation by a constitutional court, or both), and removal entails either a snap election or automatic succession to office by a vice president; therefore, the party's de jure internal leader either takes a background role (such as the Chairs of the Democratic, and Republican parties in the United States, who serve more so as the chief administrative officers of their respective political parties), or the leadership may be automatically bestowed on an incumbent president who belongs to the party (such as the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan). In countries using the Westminster system, the leader of the largest political party not within the government serves as the leader of the opposition.
In Canada, the leaders of all major political parties are chosen during their respective political party's leadership conventions upon the completion of a leadership election. Exceptions to this process sometimes occur when Members of Parliament leave their former party to form a new party; examples of this include when Jean-François Fortin quit the Bloc Québécois to form Strength in Democracy in 2014 and when Maxime Bernier quit the Conservative Party to form the People's Party of Canada in 2018.
The leaders of communist parties often hold the title of general secretary (e.g. General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party) and the officeholder is usually considered the paramount leader of China. On 15 November 2012, Xi Jinping was elected General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party at the 18th Communist Party national congress.
The party organizations themselves and also their representatives (such as the chairperson, who is the party leader, and other board members) play a much more prominent role in German politics than they do in many other countries, where the parties are mainly represented by their members and leaders in government. Although the party leaders often also hold important public offices (such as government minister or parliamentary leader), those roles are clearly separated, even by law. Consequently, it does occasionally happen that the leaders of a German party are not even members of parliament, such as Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans, who are incumbent the chairpersons of the (governing) Social Democrats. This sometimes leads to open conflicts between the party leadership, its parliamentary group and its members of government.
In the Netherlands, the party leaders are the most senior politicians within the political parties in the Netherlands. The leaders outwardly act as the 'figurehead' and the main representative of the party. Within the party, they must ensure political consensus. At election time the leader is always the Lijsttrekker (top candidate) of the party list. Outside election time the leaders most often serve as Parliamentary leader of their party in the House of Representatives, some party leaders opt to serve in the cabinet as a minister.
In the Third Rutte cabinet, the only party leader in the cabinet was Prime Minister Mark Rutte the leader of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), while the leaders of the other parties in the coalition: Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) leader Sybrand van Haersma Buma, Democrats 66 (D66) leader Alexander Pechtold and Christian Union (CU) leader Gert-Jan Segers opted to remain as Parliamentary leaders in House of Representatives.
In the Republic of Korea, Representatives of most political parties are elected through elections of party members. The representative of the Democratic Party of Korea is Song Young-gil, who was elected in May 2021, and the representative of the conservative opposition PPP is Lee Jun-seok, a famous young politician who was elected in June 2021. In the Democratic party's presidential election, it is also elected through public opinion polls, not party members. For the PPP, however, they calculate the public opinion poll and the party member poll by 50:50.
The major political parties in Taiwan are the Democratic Progressive Party and the Kuomintang.
The Democratic Progress Party's constitution stipulates that the President may serve directly as Party Chairman without an election during the ruling period, and that the Party Chairman is elected by party members during the opposition period. The Party constitution of the Kuomintang provides that the party chairman is directly elected by party members.
The current chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party is President Tsai Ing-wen. The current chairman of the Kuomintang is former Vice Premier Eric Chu.
In Turkey, the party chairpersons are the de facto party leaders. The leaders of all major political parties are chosen during their respective political party's leadership conventions upon the completion of a leadership election. Exceptions to this process sometimes occur when Members of Parliament leave their former party to form a new party. It is possible to co-chair a party. The party leader is the most prominent politician of the party and is usually considered to become the head of government. However, a party leader may also put forward a different candidate for the elections. The party leader (chairperson) can not be the same as the party's General Secretary.
The method of selection of the party leader varies from party to party, though often it will involve an election involving all or part of the party membership. In some parties, only incumbent members of the parliamentary party, or particular party office-holders, may vote; in others, such as the British Labour Party, though the entire membership is eligible to vote, some electors may have a much larger share of the vote than others (see also Superdelegate for a similar concept). If only one candidate emerges, they are said to be "elected by acclamation" or "ratified" by the general membership (sometimes the term "anointed" occurs informally or in media discourse).
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, gained the position on 25 October 2022; he has served as the party leader of the Conservative Party since 24 October 2022. Sir Keir Starmer is leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition.
If elected, political parties have party leaders in the executive branch of the United States government. The President becomes the de facto leader of their respective political party once elected, and the Vice President likewise holds a leadership role as both the second-highest executive officer and the President of the Senate. However, major parties also generally have a National Committee as their governing body, which has separate leadership roles.
The legislative branch, otherwise known as the United States Congress, is made up of the upper chamber, the Senate, and the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, with party-elected leaders in each. The leader of the party with most of the representation (sometimes called the party-in-power) in each case is known as the majority leader, whereas the leader of the opposing party with the most members is known as the minority leader.
Party leaders in the United States Senate have been elected by their respective political parties' caucuses since 1913. They include President of the Senate Kamala Harris, President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate Patty Murray, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin on the Democratic side, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Whip John Thune on the Republican side.
The party leaders of the House of Representatives are elected by their respective parties in the House by secret ballot. The Republican Party is represented in the House by Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson, whereas the Democratic Party is represented by Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. In the House of Representatives, the most powerful official is the House-elected Speaker.
Jaime Harrison serves as the chair of the Democratic Party, while Ronna McDaniel serves as the chair of the Republican Party.
The positions of majority leader and minority leader are held by two United States senators and people of the party leadership of the United States Senate. They serve as a chief spokespersons for their respective political parties holding the majority and the minority in the United States Senate. They are each elected as majority leader and minority leader by the senators of their party caucuses: the Senate Democratic Caucus and the Senate Republican Conference.
A whip is an official of a political party whose task is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. This means ensuring that members of the party vote according to the party platform, rather than according to their own individual ideology or the will of their donors or constituents. Whips are the party's "enforcers". They work to ensure that their fellow political party legislators attend voting sessions and vote according to their party's official policy. Members who vote against party policy may "lose the whip", being effectively expelled from the party.
An indirect election or hierarchical voting is an election in which voters do not choose directly among candidates or parties for an office, but elect people who in turn choose candidates or parties. It is one of the oldest forms of elections and is used by many countries for heads of state, cabinets, heads of government, and/or upper houses. It is also used for some supranational legislatures.
The Michigan Senate is the upper house of the Michigan Legislature. Along with the Michigan House of Representatives, it composes the state legislature, which has powers, roles and duties defined by Article IV of the Michigan Constitution, adopted in 1963. The primary purpose of the Legislature is to enact new laws and amend or repeal existing laws.
In politics, a party chair is the presiding officer of a political party. The nature and importance of the position differs from country to country, and also between political parties.
The House of Representatives of Puerto Rico is the lower house of the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico, the bicameral territorial legislature of Puerto Rico. The House, together with the Senate, control the legislative branch of the government of Puerto Rico.
The Michigan Republican Party is the state affiliate of the national Republican Party in Michigan, sometimes referred to as MIGOP. Ronald Weiser was elected chairman in 2021.
The Democratic Party of Illinois is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the oldest extant state party in Illinois and one of just two recognized parties in the state, along with the Republican Party. It is currently the dominant party in the state, controlling the majority of Illinois' U.S. House seats, both U.S. Senate seats, both houses of the state legislature, and the governorship.
Thomas Carolus "Thom" de Graaf is a Dutch politician of the Democrats 66 (D66) party and jurist. He is the Vice-President of the Council of State since 1 November 2018.
The terms party conference, political convention, and party congress usually refer to a general meeting of a political party. The conference is attended by certain delegates who represent the party membership. In most political parties, the party conference is the highest decision-making body of the organization, tasked with electing or nominating the party's leaders or leadership bodies, deciding party policy, and setting the party's platform and agendas.
A parliamentary leader is a political title or a descriptive term used in various countries to designate the person leading a parliamentary group or caucus in a legislative body, whether it be a national or sub-national legislature. They are their party's most senior member of parliament (MP) in most parliamentary democracies.
The House Democratic Caucus is a congressional caucus composed of all Democratic representatives in the United States House of Representatives, voting and non-voting, and is responsible for nominating and electing the Democratic Party leadership in the chamber. In its roles as a party conference, the caucus writes and enforces rules of conduct and discipline for its members, approves committee assignments, and serves as the primary forum for development of party policy and legislative priorities. It hosts weekly meetings for these purposes and to communicate the party's message to members.
The Utah Democratic Party is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in the U.S. state of Utah. Its platform focuses on economic security, equal opportunity, the common good, and American leadership. The party also describes itself as a big tent party.
The Oklahoma Senate is the upper house of the two houses of the Legislature of Oklahoma, the other being the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The total number of senators is set at 48 by the Oklahoma Constitution.
The Iowa Senate is the upper house of the Iowa General Assembly, United States. There are 50 seats in the Iowa Senate, representing 50 single-member districts across the state of Iowa with populations of approximately 60,927 per constituency, as of the 2010 United States census. Each Senate district is composed of two House districts. The Senate meets at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.
The Iowa House of Representatives is the lower house of the Iowa General Assembly, the upper house being the Iowa Senate. There are 100 seats in the Iowa House of Representatives, representing 100 single-member districts across the state, formed by dividing the 50 Senate districts in half. Each district has a population of approximately 30,464 as of the 2010 United States Census. The House of Representatives meets at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.
The Missouri Democratic Party is the affiliate of the Democratic Party in the U.S. state of Missouri. Its chair is Russ Carnahan, the vice chair is Yvonne Reeves-Chong, the treasurer is Glenda Bainbridge, and the secretary is Jonathan Kessler.
Wu Po-hsiung is a Taiwanese politician who was the chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT). He has been the Interior Minister (1984–1988), Mayor of Taipei (1988–1990), Secretary-General to the President (1991–1996), and Chairman of the KMT (2007–2009). Wu was nominated as Honorary Chairman of the Kuomintang when he was succeeded by Ma Ying-jeou as the Chairman of the Kuomintang.
Party leaders of the United States House of Representatives, also known as floor leaders, are congresspeople who coordinate legislative initiatives and serve as the chief spokespersons for their parties on the House floor. These leaders are elected every two years in secret balloting of their party caucuses or conferences: the House Democratic Caucus and the House Republican Conference. Depending on which party is in power, one party leader serves as majority leader and the other as minority leader.
The 2021 Kuomintang chairmanship election was scheduled to be held in July 2021. It was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and eventually rescheduled for 25 September 2021. It was the tenth direct election of the party leader in Kuomintang (KMT) history. All registered, due-paying KMT party members were eligible to vote.