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Harold D. Clarke and Allan Kornberg, "Partisan Dealignment, Electoral Choice and Party-System Change in Canada," Party Politics, (October 1996), 455-478.

First Paragraph:
This paper investigates the conditions under which significant changes can occur in the structure and composition of the national party system of a mature democracy. Although numerous surveys conducted since the mid-1960s have revealed that the strength and stability of individual-level support for major political parties have eroded substantially in several western democracies(e.g. Sarlvik and Crewe, 1983; Dalton et al., 1984; Franklin et al., 1992),some analysts (e.g. Bartolini and Mair, 1990:ch. 11) have contended that basic long-term trends are toward the stabilization rather than the destabilization, of the party systems of such countries. Pace these latter claims, this paper argues that, given a conjunction of facilitating conditions, the party system of a contemporary mature democracy can undergo rapid, large-scale change. These conditions are:(1) persistent dissatisfaction with a system of parliamentary representation; (2) weak and unstable partisan attachments; (3) widespread, generalized discontent with party-system performance, and (4)negatively valenced economic issues or other short-term forces that work strongly to erode support for a governing party or governing party coalition. The operation of these conjoined conditions is illustrated by analyses of party support in the most recent(October 1993) Canadian national election.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1: Conservative, Liberal and NDPsupport, November 1988-October 1993.
Figure 2: Evaluations of the national economy, 1988-93.
Figure 3: Evaluations of government's economic performance, 1988-93.
Table 1: Evaluations of Canadian politics parties, 1991 and 1993 national surveys (%).
Table 2: Most important issue and party closest, 1993 federal election.
Table 3: Party leader images, 1988-93 national surveys.
Table 4: Probit analyses of voting in the 1993 federal election.
Table 5: Probabilities of voting Conservative in 1993 by alternative assumptions about leader popularity and party-issue preference.
Figure 4:Stability of federal party identification, 1974-93 national inter-election panels.

Last Paragraph:
Some observers would argue that such a party system is long overdue. Canadian society has always been characterized by deep, reinforcing, social, economic and regional/ethnic cleavages which the traditional party system has generally failed to ameliorate (Schwartz, 1974: ch. 11; Meisel, 1991a, 1991b). A new multi-party system with a strong regional component in its choice set would better reflect the realities of this divided and complex society,would provide better representation of the interests of major social groups and, arguably, would significantly enhance the quality of Canadian democracy. However, whether these improvements in representation would be purchased at the cost of effective governance - another quality highly prized by citizens of mature democracies, including Canadians - remains to be seen.