A party selects their candidate for an election through an open primary election. The outcome of the primary is an unambiguous winner. After the primary, but before candidacy for the actual election opens, the winner of the primary experiences a marked loss of popularity. Either they renounce the candidacy, or many supporters of their party really wish they would. Or, for that matter, winner of the primary dies or otherwise becomes ineligible. There is no defined procedure to handle this case, or any local tradition to follow.

What precedents exist for this situation around the world, either in terms of what has actually happened, or in terms of defined procedures? Among places where primaries are held, what are typical rules to select a new candidate after a primary has been held but before the official election process starts? Note that in the scenario I'm asking about, the primary is a direct election, it isn't like in the US where the primary designates delegates who are expected to use their better judgement if an exceptional situation happens.

(The motivation of my question is the French mainstream right wing candidate for the 2017 Presidential election, who was selected in a primary but has been caught up by a corruption scandal which makes it likely that he won't be running in the election after all. Primaries are a pretty new thing in France — it's the first time the right has done that — and this scenario had not been planned for. Assuming that the party decided to try to capture the spirit of the primary as opposed to letting it come down to internal power plays, what experience could they draw upon?)

  • Before I got to your example, I was sure you were referring to someone else. :-)
    – user11810
    Feb 5, 2017 at 22:35
  • Really, no need for the subscript for an entire paragraph; if you want people to read it write it in a normal source; if you do not want people to read it do not write it. If you want to somehow separate it into sections, you may use an horizontal rule <hr/>
    – SJuan76
    Feb 5, 2017 at 22:46
  • 2
    Around the world might be too broad, each country has their own rules for primaries.
    – Panda
    Feb 5, 2017 at 23:15
  • Precedents are pretty rare. Are you looking for precedents or provisions for handling the situation should it arise?
    – user11810
    Feb 5, 2017 at 23:40
  • This might need to be localized. Parties in US are fully private organizations and can theoretically do anything they damn well please (and face the music from their members/voters if they pleased to do something unpopular). I don't know enough about the party system in France to be sure if it's the same there, but it's not inconceivable that the rules differ..
    – user4012
    Feb 5, 2017 at 23:57

1 Answer 1


In Spain, the Socialist Party (PSOE)1 introduced primaries voting to select the candidate to Prime Minister(Presidente del Gobierno) in 1998.

Those primaries were won by Josep Borrell, over then General Secretary, Joaquin Almunia (55%-45%)

There was lot of political infighting inside the PSOE and in 1999 Josep Borrell did renounce his candidature; then the party executive declared Joaquin Almunia as candidate.

Things to consider:

  • In Spain there is no need for primaries; as long as the political party internal workings are democratic, the way of chosing a candidate is up to each party.

  • These were the first primaries ever in Spain, so the rules and procedures were somewhat unclear. When Borrel renounced, they decided his succesor using the same system as always.

  • In Spain the PM is elected by the Parliament, that can dismiss him. This favours that the party leaders are chosen as candidates for President, as this avoids the risk of conflict between party leaders and president that could be very damaging2.

1Not an actual Socialist Party.

2In fact having a President that is not the party leader of his party is charactericed as "bicefalia", literally "having two heads".

  • I'm tempted to upvote just for note #1. And again because it's a good answer.
    – user4012
    Feb 6, 2017 at 0:38

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