How Should we Choose Party Leaders?

William Cross and André Blais

in Politics at the Centre

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199596720
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740688 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

How Should we Choose Party Leaders?

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This chapter considers how party leaders should be chosen in parliamentary democracies and how they should be held to account. Party leaders are too important, both within the party and generally within a country’s politics, to allow the choice to be restricted to parliamentarians. An argument is thus made for inclusion of grassroots members in the selection. Nonetheless, one of the key responsibilities of the leader is to lead the party in parliament. Parliamentarians typically know potential leaders well, having had opportunity to observe their strengths and weaknesses first-hand. An ideal process involves both groups of the party in the choice of a leader and in the potential removal of the incumbent. Beyond this, parties have very different approaches to leadership selection that reflect their unique democratic and organizational needs and imperatives and these are to be encouraged and not stamped out by insisting on uniformity of process or invoking significant state regulation.

Keywords: party leadership selection; party leaders; intra-party democracy; party organization

Chapter.  7258 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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