Democratic battle coming to Scotland
• Democrats Abroad nominate Edinburgh for overseas hustings
• Edinburgh Chosen ahead of Toronto and Amsterdam
• Democrats Abroad represents 5m expatriate Americans
Key quote: "Expatriate Americans are seen by the Democrat National Committee as the 51st state, so we have voting power in the convention." Sharon Manitta, organising officer of Democrats Abroad.
Story in full: THE battle for the United States Democratic Party’s presidential nomination will come to Scotland next month as expatriate Americans from across the world hold an "international caucus" in Edinburgh.
More than 200 delegates from as far afield as Armenia, Japan and the Philippines will converge on the capital next month to choose 22 representatives to attend the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
The candidates - John Kerry, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark and John Edwards - will send either videos or personal envoys to the event. Those present have been given the voting power of a small state on behalf of the five million expatriate Americans with the right to vote.
The event is being held in Scotland after a poll of Democrats Abroad, an expat organisation, rejected Toronto and Amsterdam from the shortlist, arguing that Edinburgh’s international allure outweighs the lack of direct flights.
The three-day contest, starting on 26 March, will be the culmination of 40 national battles in which Americans abroad have held hustings, or caucuses, at which delegates have fought for the right to champion their candidate in Edinburgh.
The overseas caucuses, normally sedate affairs, have been galvanised by the Iraq war and newly registered Democrats who want to vote against George Bush in the presidential election.
Last weekend, about 600 Democrats attempted to enter a Paris hustings which could only seat 200. The meeting was moved to the city’s American church instead.
The Japanese division of Democrats Abroad attracted only 40 people to its 2000 hustings. But last Sunday, 155 turned up at Tokyo’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
Final numbers for the Edinburgh caucus will be decided by the end of the week, but it is expected to be in the region of 220.
Sharon Manitta, one of the organising officers of Democrats Abroad, said the Edinburgh caucus will be taken very seriously by all candidates.
"Expatriate Americans are seen by the Democrat National Committee as the 51st state, so we have voting power in the convention," she said.
However, the 22 delegates being sent from Edinburgh to Boston will have only nine votes, against the 4,300 total.
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