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The terms party conference (UK English), political convention (US English), 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.
The term conference or caucus may also refer to the organization of all party members as a whole.
The definitions of all of these terms vary greatly, depending on the country and situation in which they are used.
- Chairmanship — Chosen from within the body's membership to preside over its business.
- Secretary — Responsible for keeping minutes of the conference's proceedings.
- Policy committees — Responsible for setting and maintaining review of current party policy, and preparing proposals for presentation to the full conference.
Party conferences around the worldEdit
In Canada, besides annual or biennial conventions, parties often hold special conventions to elect new leaders.
- Communist parties convene a congress to elect a Central Committee, which in turn sets up a Politburo.
- A Communist conference may also meet on occasion, to discuss a particular issue or plan an event, but would have no such official powers.
- Irish Labour Party has an annual Party Conference at which party policy is decided by the membership and the Party Chairperson and Executive Board are elected.
In the United Kingdom the political conferences generally take place in three weeks of September and October of each year, whilst the House of Commons is in recess. The conferences of the three largest UK-wide parties, the Conservative Party Conference, the Labour Party Conference and the Liberal Democrat Federal Conference, are held during this time.
In the United States, the term party conference is used to refer to the equivalent of parliamentary groups in other countries.