The Canadian party system is a deviant case among the Anglo-American democracies. Unruly and inscrutable, it is a system that defies logic and classification – until now. In this political science tour de force, Richard Johnston makes sense of the Canadian party system. With a keen eye for history and deft use of recently developed analytic tools, he articulates a series of propositions that underpin the system. For its combination of historical breadth and data-intensive rigour, The Canadian Party System is a rare achievement. Its findings shed light on the main puzzles of the Canadian case, while contesting the received wisdom of the comparative study of parties, elections, and electoral systems elsewhere.
Richard Johnston is a professor of political science and Canada Research Chair in Public Opinion, Elections, and Representation at the University of British Columbia. He has also taught at the University of Toronto, the California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and the University of Pennsylvania and held visiting fellowships at Queen’s University at Kingston, the Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung in Germany, and the Australian National University. He was principal investigator of the 1988 and 1992-93 Canadian Election Studies and research director for the National Annenberg Election Survey, 2000-8. From 2009 to 2012, he was a Marie Curie Research Fellow attached to the European University Institute. He is the author or co-author of five books, three on Canadian politics and two on US politics. He has co-edited four other books and written more than ninety articles and book chapters. In 2017, he received the Mildred A. Schwartz Lifetime Achievement Award for the study Canadian politics from the American Political Science Association.
Johnston has written a book that will be required reading for students of Canadian politics for decades to come. In identifying and explaining the role of the Liberal and Conservative parties and their relationship to Québec, while also highlighting the importance of what he calls ‘insurgent’ third parties, Johnston provides a valuable explanatory framework for the unique nature of Canada’s party system.
By tackling the big claims regarding parties, elections, and electoral systems in Canada, and by placing his analysis in a comparative framework, Johnston has done the discipline a huge service[…]Simply put, The Canadian Party System is foundational reading.