Pendulum of Power; Canada's Federal Elections

Pendulum of Power; Canada's Federal Elections

Pendulum of Power; Canada's Federal Elections

Pendulum of Power; Canada's Federal Elections

Excerpt

This book is intended neither to present a highly sophisticated account of Canadian politics nor to offer original insight into the country's elections. To some readers it may appear to be a repetition of the conventional wisdom about the election campaigns and their chief personalities. It is my hope, however, that within the limitations of space, it presents a panoramic view of the general elections that will give the student and general reader alike a greater understanding of the Canadian electoral process.

I also hope that the book may provide the student with a background for the appreciation and evaluation of the sophisticated books on Canadian politics and elections that have recently begun to make their appearance. It may even suggest avenues for further research into Canadian voting behaviour.

The book demonstrates that, although each of Canada's elections is unique, the factors leading to its outcome may have been set in train the day after the last election. In most elections most of the voters have made up their minds before the formal campaign begins; in fewer than a third of them has the campaign itself determined the outcome or meant the difference between majority and minority government. The crucial factor in deciding most elections has been the capacity of a party to preserve an attractive image in the eyes of the voter in the period between elections. Accordingly the accounts of each election give considerable attention to the events preceding dissolution and the formal campaign itself.

I have made a special effort in my examination of each election to interpret the electoral behaviour of each region or province, particularly Quebec. Admittedly, this has sometimes required me to make judgments that may not stand up under more specialized examination, but I am hopeful that these instances will be few. The tables accompanying each election serve to complement and reinforce the conclusions I have reached relative to the voting patterns of regions and provinces.

The reader should appreciate that the statistics of the first two elections, especially those relating to the popular vote, are little more than informed guesses. In compiling the statistics of succeeding elections, I

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