People, Planet & Peace
The Massachusetts Affiliate of the Green Party of the United States

Consensus Seeking Process


This process was voted at the February 2009 State Committee Meeting,to be reviewed after following the process at subsequent State Committee Meetings. It grew out of comments from GRP members and research into how a number of other groups implement the consensus process. While some GRP members strongly advocate using Robert’s Rules instead of consensus, this process tries to embody the spirit of consensus by seeking to hear and respond constructively to every voice.


A more constructive, effective, and ecological approach to decision-making. This process involves the State Committee more fully in the development of a proposal by not giving the sponsors of a proposal sole power over the proposal’s content. At the same time, the process attempts to move more smoothly to a State Committee decision.

Consensus Seeking Process:

In the following process the default time periods for general discussion and individual speaking can be altered at the discretion of the meeting facilitators who can consider the complexity of the proposal, its importance, and the time available on the meeting agenda. Extensions of discussion time can be effected by vote of the State Committee. A person who is allocated time may yield any portion of their time to another speaker.


The sponsors of the proposal select a single person to communicate sponsor decisions during the floor discussion. The sponsors present the proposal as written, along with any background information they think is pertinent. The default time for this is 5 minutes. Then any working committee that has reviewed the proposal and approved a statement on it is given 1 minute each to summarize their findings or recommendations.


This period allows for clarifying questions, statements supporting the proposal, statements of concern with the proposal, attempts to address concerns, and encouragement to those with a concern to propose an amendment. An initial discussion period of 15 minutes can be extended by a majority straw poll. Speakers are limited to 2 minutes, and must wait until the stack is empty before they get back on. Whenever possible, facilitators should balance the stack according to gender, race, and the amount of time a person has already spoken. After any speaker, the facilitators may, at their discretion, recognize the lead sponsor of the proposal to give a reply or clarification.


The facilitators ask the lead sponsor to restate the original proposal and then ask, “Does anyone have concerns that stand in the way of consensus?” Those who answer “yes,” are asked to state their concerns and are asked (1) whether they have amendments to propose and (2) if not, whether they will stand aside. If those with concerns stand aside, the facilitators state, “The proposal passes by consensus.”


If the proposal has not passed by consensus, amendments sponsored by at least 2 StateCom members are considered in this period as an effort to address concerns and reach consensus. One of the amendment sponsors provides a written copy of the amendment to the facilitators, states their amendment, and has 1 minute to explain it. The proposal sponsors have 1 minute to express their opinion. After hearing all of the proposed amendments, there is a 10-minute discussion period. At the end of this period, which cannot be extended, the meeting facilitators decide upon the order in which amendments will be taken up, and proceed with an up-or-down vote on each one. An amendment must receive a 2/3 majority in order to pass. After all amendments have been considered, if any amendment has been adopted, the facilitators may, at their discretion, recognize the lead sponsor for a 1-minute statement on the amended proposal.


The facilitators clarify any amendments that have been made to the text of the proposal and restate the proposal as amended. The facilitators then ask, " Does anyone have concerns that stand in the way of consensus?" Those who answer “yes,” are asked whether they are willing to stand aside. If yes, the facilitators state, "The (amended) proposal passes by consensus." If anyone with a concern does not stand aside, the proposal drops to a vote.

VI. MOVE TO VOTE (if no consensus)

The facilitators ask for a show of hands in favor of the final proposal, as amended. Then for a show of hands opposed, and then for abstentions. The vote is tallied: A 2/3 majority of the votes cast (minus abstentions) is required for the final proposal to pass. 


A) At any time, the sponsors of a proposal or an amendment can withdraw the proposal or amendment from consideration.

B) If any decision is to be made that involves more than one choice, the GRP rules as specified in section 5.3 of the bylaws apply.

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published this page in State Committee 2012-07-25 15:56:00 -0400