Federation Delegates Meetings (FDM)
This is the decision-making body of the Anarchist Federation (AF). It is a two-day event that occurs four times per year, once every three months. It is hoped that each region is able to host one FDM per year, with members in that region deciding who will act as hosts.
Any member of the federation may attend FDMs to participate in the discussions personally. Those who cannot attend are expected to mandate a delegate to take their position to the FDM, with each Group expected to send at least one delegate and isolated members contacted by another group or their Regional Secretary (RegSec).
The Federation Treasurer will, upon request, subsidise the travel expenses from the federation account for one delegate from each local group and any costs associated with hosting of the FDM.
The first day of each FDM should prioritise presentation of group reports and discussion of any federation-wide strategy, caucus group meetings, industrial networking, and discussions to advance the theory and practice of the AF. Administrative decisions should also be placed on the agenda for the first day if time allows. The second day of the event should prioritise the discussion of proposals.
The summer FDM should be followed by an extended event known as Summer Camp where members come together to socialise, debate, and develop knowledge and skills related to the theory and practice of the AF.
The host group are expected to have drafted an agenda with order of items and a rough time allocation for each discussion. The first order of business at the FDM will be to discuss and approve the agenda by simple majority agreement of those present. The next item of business will be identifying delegates and tallying the total number of members represented at the FDM (i.e. the total number of votes that can be cast in the room). Next each person present will tally their own and any mandated initial positions in favour, against or abstaining from each proposal. The FDM should select a facilitator and minute taker for each discussion taking place, while the order of the agenda may be changed if required (both again by simple majority agreement of those present).
Non-members may be invited to attend an FDM as observers. Non-members may be invited to take part in discussion if agreed by all present but shall automatically adopt a position of abstention in decision-making. Non-members are required to leave the FDM if requested to do so by any member present.
The Internal Bulletin (IB)
This is a report of items sent to the IB compiler by members at least 21 days in advance of the FDM taking place. Late submissions may be accepted at the discretion of the IB compiler. The IB Compiler will then format the material and post copies to each group secretary, each RegSec, to the internal mailing list, and onto the internal forums at least 14 days in advance of an FDM.
Each local group must provide a report in each IB containing their actions in relation to any agreed federation-wide strategy, workplace and community organising members have involved themselves in, and any activities or news that would be of interest to the federation. Group delegates will present this report to the FDM.
Each member of the federation currently holding a commission from a previous FDM (officers, working group co-ordinators, those with a specific mandate, etc) must provide a report in the IB upon their activities in this role. Any proposals relating to these roles should be submitted separately.
Any member can submit a proposal of an activity for the federation to undertake. Proposals require at least one other member to act as a seconder. All submitted proposals should be allocated time for discussion at the FDM. Those making the proposal may withdraw it at any time.
Any member can submit articles for discussion, points of interest, news, requests or announcements to the IB without the need for a seconder. These may or may not be added to the agenda as agreed by those present at the FDM.
Those who cannot be present at an FDM can delegate their position and their vote on each item in the IB to any other member. This delegation must be made along with a mandate of how it is to be used. Delegates agree to accurately convey the different views they carry with them and are expected to act within the mandate(s) assigned to them and relay positions and cast votes as instructed.
A mandate consists of more than a simple list of voting positions and must match the description of one of the three positions taken when discussing a proposal (given below) so as to avoid ambiguity or confusion. The delegate may change this position if done in good faith.
Groups are expected to meet at least once before each FDM to discuss items and proposals in the IB together. Groups should attempt to reach a consensus (though this may not always be possible) and should nominate a delegate to convey the position of those who cannot attend the FDM in person. When no members of the group can attend the FDM they are expected to convey a written mandate to a delegate who can relay their positions.
If a member does not attend an FDM and did not delegate a position on a topic then they are assumed to be abstaining from the matter.
Discussion of a Proposal
When a proposal is discussed at an FDM the first thing that is done is that the facilitator will go around the room and invite those present to give any personal or mandated initial comments or amendments on the proposal. Delegates should explain the full range of the mandate they have been given. Positions are presented as either:
- In Favour – You are in broad agreement with the proposal and are likely to accept any amendments in the spirit of your mandate. You may suggest amendments to the proposal. Conditions may be set by which you would change your vote to an abstention or by which you would be against the proposal.
- Against – You have disagreement with the proposal. You must give the reasons for your disagreement and either put forward the conditions or amendments that would allow you to change your vote to be in favour of the proposal and/or the conditions by which you would simply abstain, or state the reason you could never agree with the proposal.
- Abstain – You have no position upon the proposal and do not want to be considered in it being accepted or rejected. This may be for any number of reasons. Your position may contain conditions by which your vote would be changed to be in favour or against. Abstentions do not count towards the number of votes when calculating if a proposal passes or fails.
Unless a clear consensus has already been reached the facilitator opens discussion with an aim to resolve any outstanding objections to the proposal and also finding amendments that could lead to a consensus being reached. The tally taken at the start of the FDM can be used to help identify proposals that have outstanding concerns.
An amendment is a minor change to a proposal that remains in-keeping with the spirit of the original. Amendments to a proposal can either be submitted in advance of the FDM by any member or can be submitted during the discussion by anyone present. Changes which substantively change a proposal cannot be discussed in this way and should be submitted as separate proposals at a later date. A submitted amendment is passed if a simple majority of the positions represented (not including abstentions) accept it.
During the discussion those present may change their own or their delegated position based upon the current wording of the proposal (in-keeping with the spirit of any mandate they may have been given). This is used to to help measure the feeling on the proposal and to highlight areas where agreement has been reached and where further debate is required.
Discussion continues until either:
- Consensus is reached – The proposal in its current form has full agreement by those not abstaining or it is agreed that strong opposition cannot be overcome at this time.
- A call to end the discussion is made – Any member present my call for the discussion to end and the proposal to fail at this time due to the lack of consensus. This requires a simple majority of those present to agree to for this to take place. Calls to end the discussion are intended to be made only when those present feel that most delegated positions have not been given a mandate to make a decision, where no clear consensus has been reached after the allotted time on the agenda, or where a new objection has been raised that those present feel should be presented to the membership before any decision is made.
- A call to vote is made – Any member present may call for a vote to be taken to decide the matter. Again this requires a simple majority of those present to agree to for this to take place. A call to vote should only be made once it is felt that the discussion has run its course and all main points have been discussed.
Calls to end the discussion or to vote should be made in good faith and should not be used to stifle debate.
If a proposal is called to vote then the exact wording is clarified by the facilitator and final positions in favour or against are tallied. If over one third of these votes are against the proposal then it fails at this time, otherwise it passes (though is subject to ratification). Abstentions do not factor into this result however all positions are minuted.
Example: 150 members are either attending or have mandated a delegate to present their views at the FDM. A call to vote upon a proposal is made and once all positions are taken there are 66 votes are cast in favour, 34 against, and 50 abstentions. The proposal narrowly fails.
On occasion a vote will be called to decide between two different outcomes to the same issue. The facilitator will clarify the wording and tally the votes for each proposed outcome separately before taking votes. Any option which has over one third of votes against (not including abstentions) fails. If any versions still in the running, the one with the most votes in favour (or when tied the fewest votes against) will be the version which passes. If they are still deadlocked and accommodation cannot be reached through discussion then a further call to vote by simple majority vote between the options can be made. If this still fails to give a decision then the proposals require further discussion throughout the federation and fail at this time.
Example: At the same FDM a second proposal has been discussed and has several outcomes if passed, either A, B or C. It may also fail. A call to vote is made for option A and it gains 101 votes in favour, 19 against, and 30 abstentions. The second call to vote is made, this time for option B, and it gains 101 votes in favour, 15 against, and 34 abstentions. A final call to vote on option C shows 50 votes in favour, 30 against, and 70 abstentions. Option A passes, option B fails as it had more people opposed to it, while option C failed to gain two thirds in support.
When a proposal is passed by an FDM it is expected that those at the FDM will agree upon a set of action points that will be undertaken. These are the activities that members volunteer to take on to enact the proposal. These will be added to the minutes and considered part of the decision that is to be ratified.
Action points will be logged and monitored by the Anarchivist, who will provide an open record of any decisions relevant to the federation and any action points still outstanding on the internal forums. These will appear in the Anarchivist’s report to each IB.
The minute taker is responsible for taking an accurate record of any decisions taken, proposals passed and mandate or action points given. It is the responsibility of the facilitator to ensure that the minute taker has properly understood any decision reached. The minutes should also summarise accurately the main points of discussion, but need not be a verbatim record. All FDM minutes must include as standard:
- The Date and Location of the FDM
- A list of those present (preferred name + group or region)
- The number of members represented at the FDM by group or region
- The topic, facilitator and minute taker of each topic of discussion
- A clear indication of the initial position/mandate being presented on each topic of discussion
- A clear record of any points of discussion
- A clear record of any vote taken
- The final text of any decision/mandate/action point agreed along with an outline of how these will be enacted and reviewed
The provisional minutes should be sent to the announcement email list and posted to our internal forums within 7 days of the FDM ending. The Membership Secretary should then forward this onto anyone not on the announcement list using the preferred contact method supplied.
If within 7 days of the publication of the provisional minutes EITHER more members than where represented at the FDM OR over one third of the membership (whichever is smaller) lodge an objection to a proposal being passed with the Federation Secretary, or if a member advises the Federation Secretary that their delegate acted in bad faith and change their position in a way that would alter the outcome of a decision, then the Federation Secretary will send an appendix to the minutes detailing the change in outcome (through the same channels noted above). If no objections or recall of delegated positions change the outcome then the Federation Secretary need only note any such contacts in their report to the next IB.
Any changes to the constitutional documents of the AF – the Aims & Principles, the Constitution, the Decision Making process, or the Community Accountability process – must be approved and ratified by two consecutive FDMs before taking effect.
The AF makes decisions upon the principle of attempting to reach a consensus. However we also acknowledge in cases of book-keeping, tasks related to an existing commission, editorial decisions, internal process, and other functional decisions it is acceptable to only require a majority of the membership to be in agreement.
Any member (including the proposer upon submission to the IB) may ask for a proposal to be considered administrative. Any member can object to and prevent the proposal being considered administrative either at the start of the discussion or when an amendment is added that they feel makes the proposal non-administrative. If there is no objection then the proposal only requires a simple majority to pass if it is called to vote. Efforts should still be made to incorporate amendments and reach the most acceptable outcome.
Administrative decisions do not require ratification before they are acted upon.
Interim and Emergency Decisions
If a local group comes to the consensus that a proposal must be decided in between two FDMs due to pressing time constraints then they should communicate this proposal to the announcement list and the internal forums and request that an interim decision is taken.
Group secretaries and RegSecs take all reasonable efforts to communicate the proposal to their group and any isolated members and encourage positions to be submitted under the usual criteria for a proposal (in favour/against/abstain and any amendments). If a member cannot be contacted within seven days they will be treated as abstaining from the decision. If the proposal (and any amendments) have consensus at the end of seven days then the proposal will have passed.
An emergency decision follows the same process, however the time needed to take a decision is 48 hours. A group calling for an emergency decision should pro-actively help with the attempt to contact as many members as possible by any reasonable means. Emergency decision making is exceedingly rare.
All interim and emergency decisions requested should appear in the proposing group group report to the next IB along with their reasoning for making the request and the outcome. If one third or more of the membership lodge objection to the outcome then the decision is recalled by the FDM. Interim/emergency decisions are never considered administrative and cannot be used to make changes to the constitutional documents of the federation.
If anyone present at an FDM feels the passing of a proposal was not reflective of the membership or the agreed proposal was of a particularly controversial nature (either personally or if mandated) they may ask the meeting to put the final outcome to a membership ballot. If one other person present seconds this call then the group secretaries and the RegSecs must make every reasonable effort to contact every member of the federation within one week of the minutes from the FDM being published to ask if they are in favour/against the outcome, or if they abstain. If over one third of those not abstaining say they are against the outcome then it is recalled.
Membership ballots are rare and intended for issues that would relate to the core politics of the AF.