The Canadian Party System

An Analytic History

Table des matières

1 Introduction

2 Situating the Case

3 Liberal Dominance, Conservative Interludes

4 Liberal Centrism, Polarized Pluralism

5 Catholics and Others

6 The Life and Death of Insurgents

7 Invasion from the Left

8 System Dynamics, Coordination, and Fragmentation

9 Federal-Provincial Discontinuity

10 Conclusion

Appendix: Data Sources

Notes; References; Index

La description

The Canadian party system is a deviant case among Anglo-American democracies. In this political science tour de force, Richard Johnston makes sense of it. With a keen eye for history and deft use of 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.


  • Short-listed, 2018, Shortlisted - The Donald Smiley Prize, Canadian Political Science Association 2018
  • Winner, 2019, Winner - Lipset Prize, American Politics Association 2019


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.

- Adam Coombs

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.

- Tamara A. Small