POLiTiCAL LEADERS, EH? THE UNiQUE CENTRALiTYOF PARTY LEADERS iN CANADiAN DEMOCRACY
Unlike many other democracies, Canadian voters place an overwhelming emphasis on party leaders when checking off their ballot. This paper explores what factors may cause this unique pattern, such as the influences of electoral systems, ideological flexibility, media perception and branding, and the distinct characteristics of Canadian party leaders themselves.
Canadian politics centralizes party leaders. Fundamentally defined as a democracy, Canadian elections are more focused on winning seats (Savoie 2019, 165) as opposed to more expected democratic principles like representation and ideological balance. Such a goal necessitates the perception of a political party to be prominent for winning elections, for which a party’s leader is fundamentally important. Supplemented by the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) or Simple-Member Plurality (SMP) electoral systems, Canadian political parties use leaders as tools to win elections. This paper will assert that political party leaders are critical in elections by diluting the importance of individual MPs, being flexible in their party’s ideologies, and by being deemed as the most electable candidates from their party; all under the SMP system. Further, it will submit that party leaders are vital to electoral outcomes due to an increasing focus of political campaigns branding and media, emphasizing the image they uphold and the characteristics they present. ..
Author: Soban Atique