Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties - Vol. 1

By M. Ostrogorski; Frederick Clarke | Go to book overview

FOURTH CHAPTER
CANDIDATES AND ELECTIONEERING

I

HOWEVER strongly the action of the Organizations may influence the minds and the "social tendencies" of the voters, its effect cannot be complete unless the liking for the party, developed in them by these efforts, centres in a concrete fashion on particular persons whom the Organization is anxious to get into Parliament -- for that is its ultimate object. To bring about this result, the Association must obtain what is called a good candidate. Here, therefore, is a new factor added to those with which we are already acquainted.

But what is a good candidate? In general, one may say that it is the man who is likely to conciliate the greatest number of the predominating influences in the locality. As we already have an idea from the description of the modes of action of the Caucus, the influences which sway the voters are manifold. Party feeling, loyalty to the flag, while powerless to inspire all of them, is at all events capable of carrying a good many in each constituency. With some, more or less reasoned convictions lead them to prefer one party to the other. With others, devotion to the party is of a sentimental order; at one time it is merely the outcome of atavism, a tradition inherited from the family; at another simply a habit which has been contracted of hoisting certain political colours and which has become an integral part of their existence. These feelings are, perhaps, displayed only at intervals; overlaid by the political apathy which seizes on the majority of the voters between one general election and another, they nevertheless subsist in a latent condition. Idea or simple feeling, flashing brightly forth or smouldering under the embers of the last electoral battle, it is a sort of religion, resembling that of the Church,

-442-

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