Open primary elections are elections within a political party in which it is not only the formal membership that has the right to vote, but non-members also form part of the ‘selectorate’.

The structure of open primaries varies from party to party. This Primer explains the key decisions and questions that political parties are most likely to face when considering or conducting open primaries.

International IDEA’s Political Party Innovation Primers are designed to explain emerging trends and practices being adopted by political parties worldwide to reconnect with citizens. Each Primer provides guidance to citizens in general, and to members and sympathizers of existing or new parties in particular, on how to introduce innovative ideas and practices in their organizations.

The Primers aim to fill gaps in existing literature on selected topics, and draw on interviews and consultations with party activists and experts who have employed the innovative means in question.


Publication date
04 November 2019
Number of pages
978-91-7671-278-8 (PDF)


1. Introduction

2. What is the issue?

3. Perspectives on open primary elections

4. How do open primary elections work?

5. Issues to consider before implementing open primary elections

6. Conclusions: the implications of holding open primary elections



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Open Primary Elections

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