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On the first day of Ridván, Local Spiritual Assemblies are elected or formed in many locations in every corner of our world. Furthermore, in almost all countries, National Conventions will be held between first and twelfth of Ridván. Out of convenience, the National Conventions are predominantly held at the weekends. As National Conventions will be held during this and the next weekend, it might be worthwhile to refresh our understanding on Bahá’í Elections and National Conventions.
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Bahai Elections, be it for electing delegates, Local, Regional or National Spiritual Assembly Members, is very different from what is common today in the world. It might be valuable to, in these coming months of elections, have a “pocket compilation” about Bahai Elections.
In this “Bahai Elections – A Pocket Compilation“, there are quotes from the Bahai Writings on the following topics;
Bahai Elections within the Context of Bahai Administration
The Nature of Bahai Elections
Preparation for voting
Mind set when voting
Qualifications of those to vote for
Voting for Institution, not individual
Changes in Membership
When it is Difficult to Find suitable candidates
Voting for Oneself
…the annual Convention is not to be regarded as a body entitled to exercise functions similar to those which an ordinary parliament possesses under a democratic form of government. The Administrative Order which lies embedded in the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, …, should, under no circumstances, be identified with the principles underlying present-day democracies. Nor is it identical with any purely aristocratic or autocratic form of government. The objectionable features inherent in each of these political systems are entirely avoided. It blends, as no system of human polity has as yet achieved, those salutary truths and beneficial elements which constitute the valuable contributions which each of these forms of government have made to society in the past. Consultation, frank and unfettered, is the bedrock of this unique Order. Authority is concentrated in the hands of the elected members of the National Assembly. Power and initiative are primarily vested in the entire body of the believers acting through their local representatives. (Postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi appended to a letter dated 18 November 1933 written on his behalf to a National Spiritual Assembly)
I hope this compilation on National Bahai Conventions, can help the friends to better understanding and appreciating the uniqueness of Bahai Elections and Conventions. Although almost all the quotes refers to National Conventions and Election of the National Spiritual Assembly, I believe it applies to Unit Conventions and other Elections within the Bahai Administration. You can find the compilation here Compilation on National Bahai Conventions.
All around the world, Bahais have been electing Local Spiritual Assemblies and until the 2nd of May, there will be National Conventions where, among other things, delegates will elect National Spiritual Assemblies.
It might be time to remind ourselves of what the Universal House of Justice wrote about the nature of Bahai Elections in a letter to the Bahais of the World dated 25th of March 2007. You can find the letter here UHJ Letter 25 March 2007 on Bahai Elections.
Wishing you all a joyous Ridvan.