Canada at the Polls, 1979 and 1980: A Study of the General Elections

Canada at the Polls, 1979 and 1980: A Study of the General Elections

Canada at the Polls, 1979 and 1980: A Study of the General Elections

Canada at the Polls, 1979 and 1980: A Study of the General Elections

Excerpt

Canada at the Polls, 1979 and 1980: A Study of the General Elections is another in the continuing series of studies of national elections in selected democratic countries published by the American Enterprise Institute. Underlying the series is the belief that public policy makers and students of elections in each democracy can profit from a knowledge of electoral rules and practices in a wide variety of other democracies. The greater their understanding of the political consequences of the conduct of elections in other countries, the deeper their insight into the impact of electoral rules and practices at home.

This book is about two Canadian general elections nine months apart. In May 1979 the Progressive Conservative party (PC) finished 4.2 percentage points behind the Liberal party in the popular vote but won twenty-two more seats in the House of Commons. The PC formed a minority government -- as it had in 1957, another election when it won more seats with fewer votes than its chief competitor. As in 1957, the government was short lived. In the election held in February 1980, the Liberal party again won a plurality of the popular vote but this time was rewarded with a majority of the seats in the House of Commons. In the next few pages, I would like to use these results to highlight a few broad features of electoral politics in Canada.

The Two-Party System . Besides Canada, three large democracies -- Britain, New Zealand, and the United States -- have used the single- member-district/plurality system to elect their national legislators . . .

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