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Canada (161,877)
POLI 222 (24)

The Electoral System and the Party System in Canada, 1921-1965 (Alan C. Cairns)

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Political Science
POLI 222
Christa Scholtz

ER 12: The Electoral System and the Party System in Canada, 1921-1965 (Alan C. Cairns) Introduction • two common assumptions about party system ◦ 1. influence of electoral system on party system is unimportant ◦ 2. party system as important nationalizing agency ▪ overcoming sectional cleavages that are most enduring lines of division in polity • inability to agree on values which electoral systems should serve ◦ Proportional Representation (PR) ▪ democratic fundamentalism ▪ each vote should have equal weight ▪ voters' preferences shouldn't be distorted by single member constituency systems ▪ BUT pervasive hostility to it; not seriously considered as a possible alternative to current system ▪ blamed for bad French system, ignored for good Swedish system ◦ Single-Member Constituency System (current system) ▪ executive stability is more basic consideration ▪ propensity of Canadian type systems to create artificial legislative majorities Approaches to a Theory of the Party System • current electoral system has stimulated politics of sectionalism ◦ significant differences between the distribution of party voter support ◦ introduces distortions by transforming votes into seats ▪ produces exaggerated sectionalism at the level of representation • THESIS: Statements about sectionalism in the national party system are in many cases, and at a deeper level, statements about the politics of the single-member constituency system. ◦ sectional tendencies are accorded exaggerate
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