The US Democratic Party said on Monday it will give presidential contender Bernie Sanders a prominent say in writing its platform this year, a gesture that could ease tensions between Sanders' camp and party leaders, whom Sanders has accused of favoring rival Hillary Clinton.
Sanders has remained steadfast in his long-shot battle with Clinton for the Democratic nomination for the November presidential election, even though he lags her in the delegate count with only a few state contests remaining. The divisiveness among the Democrats stands in contrast to the Republicans, whose party leaders are slowly rallying behind Donald Trump, their presumptive nominee.
Sanders' tenacity appeared to be paying off: The US senator from Vermont will be allowed to name five members to the 15-member committee that writes the platform at the Democratic Party's national convention in late July in Philadelphia even if he is not the nominee. Clinton will get to name six.
The party said in a statement the split was based on the results of state votes to date "in an effort to make this the most representative and inclusive process in history."
Clinton has won 54 percent of the delegates who decide the party's nominee. Sanders has 46 percent.
The party's chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, will name the committee's final four members, who will draft the language of the platform before it is voted up or down by delegates at the convention.
Sanders did little to dispel the acrimony between himself and the party, which he joined only last year after more than two decades in Congress as an independent, when he said over the weekend that he was endorsing Wasserman Schultz's Democratic opponent this August in her Florida congressional district.
The Democratic Party's rules allow the chair to name all 15 members of the committee, suggesting that the party was making an effort to accommodate Sanders and his fervent supporters, who still pack rallies by the thousands as he campaigns in California, which will hold its primaries on June 7.
Sanders, responding in a statement, recalled some of his criticisms of Clinton, whom he has suggested is vulnerable to influence by corporate donors to her campaign, which she denies.
"We believe that we will have the representation on the platform drafting committee to create a Democratic platform that reflects the views of millions of our supporters who want the party to address the needs of working families in this country and not just Wall Street, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry and other powerful special interests," Sanders said.
The Clinton campaign said it was pleased to see Sanders represented, describing the party as a "big tent."
"Hillary Clinton is committed to continue welcoming different perspectives and ideas," spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement.