Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Roman R. March
This study examines the nature of internal decision making in the two major political parties in Canada as it relates to leadership selection. The thesis argues that, as essentially electoral-competitive (cadre-style) organizations, the Liberals and Conservatives do not rigidly adhere to democratic principles in the selection of their leaders. To support this contention, an examination of the representativeness, openness and the extent of membership control in the leadership selection process is undertaken in order to determine what factors facilitate and restrict intra-party democracy. The thesis also offers an analysis of motivational factors affecting delegate preference in order to test the validity of the winnability thesis, i.e., that the candidate perceived as the best vote-getter for the party is selected as leader regardless of his experience or loyalty to the party organization. In conclusion, it is argued that the Liberals and Conservatives, although primarily oriented towards electoral activity, should be understood as more than mere electoral machines unconcerned with internal democracy. Rather, the parties have displayed a steady, though as yet incomplete, movement towards a more open and democratic leadership selection process involving grassroots participation.
Lindeman, Stephen, "Party Democracy and the Selection of National Party Leaders in Canada" (1985). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6312.
McMaster University Library