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POLI 222 (24)

A New Canadian Party System (R. Kenneth Carty, William Cross, Lisa Young)

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 222
Christa Scholtz

ER 18: A New Canadian Party System (R. Kenneth Carty, William Cross, Lisa Young) Introduction • 1993 general election ◦ disruption of unprecedented proportions in patterns of party politics • 1997 general election ◦ signalled longer-term change in these patterns • emerging Fourth Party System in Canada!! (#ShitJustGotReal) The Canadian Party System: Background • party system: constellation of parties present in the system • UNTIL 1993 ◦ number of parties barely changed ◦ two dominant major parties • more finely tuned approach to studying party system by creating classifications ◦ identified 3 party systems and their intervening periods of transition since Confederation • First Party System ◦ Confederation 1867-1917 ◦ localist, dependent on patronage to hold parties together ◦ parliamentary caucus retained power to select party leader • Second Party System ◦ 1921-1957 ◦ regional brokerage ◦ extra-parliamentary parties became more significant ◦ strong regionally-based ministers dominated their party • Third Party System ◦ 1963-1993 ◦ pan-Canadian politics ◦ advent of television and professionalization of politics keep party leader as central figure in party affairs • transition between First and Second ◦ considerable social and demographic change in the basic structure of the electorate preceded it ◦ liberals left best placed to establish and epitomize new system • four crucial functions of political parties that changed ◦ 1. representation and accommodation of society's interests ◦ 2. democratic organization ◦ 3. contesting of elections ◦ 4. governing • five features that define the emerging Fourth Party System ◦ 1. rise of two new federal parties (Bloq QC and Canadian Alliance, AKA Reform) ◦ 2. increased regionalization ◦ 3. fragmentation of electorate ◦ 4. democratization within the parties ◦ greater diversity among the parties A New Canadian Party System • Canadian party system is in the midst of transition • unclear whether Liberals and Conservatives will emerge as strong as they were • entry of two new parties that have eclipsed the Conservatives and NDP in Parl. • highly regionalized pattern of party competition • increasing use of private and highly segmented campaign communications ◦ breaks up the mass national electorate that formed the basis for pan- Canadian appeals in Third Party System • all parties become more internally democratic • new diversity in the societal basis, ideology, and internal organizations of parties Two New Parties • old party system dominated by Liberals and Conservatives, with NDP as perpetual third party ◦ new system threatens Lib. and Cons. historic domination • 1993 breakdown of Mulroney coalition ◦ Alberta, BC, QC opted to support regionally based parties ▪ nothing new for Alberta, who support majority government on only 3 occasions ▪ Alberta didn't change. Rather, the rest of the country came to them ▪ Alberta + BC support Canadian Alliance ▪ QC supports Bloc Québécois ▪ committed sovereignists unlikely to support Lib. or Cons. ▪ two viable options: Bloq or not voting at all • continued existence of Canadian Alliance and Bloq ensures that political competition remains highly regionalized ◦ pits new regional parties against the older parties Regionalization • great
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