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Political Parties and Elections

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Actors, Interests and Lobbying
Administration and Governance
Administrative Law and Constitutional Checks on the Executive
All-Powerful Leaders?: The Concentration of Power in Modern Executives
Bureaucracy and the Formulation of Public Policy
Canadian Intergovernmental Structures and Operating Processes
Conceptual and Theoretical Foundations of Third Sector Governance and Management
Courts, Judicial Review, Rights and Democracy
Emergence of the Nation State
Executive Authority, Cabinet and Leadership
Executive Leadership in Government
Executive-Legislative Relations
Federal-Provincial Fiscal Relations
Federal-Provincial-Municipal Relations
Game Theory and Rational Institutionalism
Indigenous Rights and Institutions
Institutional Architecture: Federalism
Institutional Designs and Paths
Machinery of Government
Media, Framing and Agenda Setting
New Public Management
Parliamentary, Presidential and Decentralized Unitary Systems
Political and Administrative Responsibilities
Political and Administrative Responsibilities
Political Parties and Elections
Probing the Accuracy of Rational Decision Making Models: Alternative Accounts
Public and Para-Public Institutions
Public Institutions, Organizing Principles and Democratic Control
Public Opinion, Ideas and Policy Frames
Representation and Accountability
Representation and Responsiveness
Representation, Accountability and Policy
The Architecture of the Canadian State
The Bureaucracy and Bureaucratic Behaviour
The Changing Role of the State
The Democratic Deficit: Ethics, Responsiveness and Performance
The International Context of Domestic Institutions
The Policy Cycle
The Political Context of Policy Making
Weber: Rationalization and Bureaucracy
Westminster Parliamentary Systems
Who are the Players in the Policy Process?


Political Parties and Elections

This teaching topic deals with the role of political parties and elections in the public policy process in Westminster parliamentary systems. More generally, this topic deals with issues surrounding democratic accountability and the influence of politics and policy. 

Topic Learning Outcome: Upon mastering this topic, students will be knowledgeable about the role of political parties in our democratic system. They will also understand the role of elections in ensuring democratic accountability and channelling the preferences of the people as an input to the policy process.

Core Concepts Related to this Topic: Political Parties; Politicization; Presidential System of Government; Brokerage Politics; Liberal Democracy; Single Member Plurality System

Recommended Reading:

Ottawa - API 5116

Nadia Urbinati and Mark E. Warren (2008) “The Concept of Representation in Contemporary Democratic Theory”, Annual Review of Political Science, vol.11, 387-412.

Peter Aucoin, Mark Jarvis and Lori Turnbull (2011) “Letting the People Decide: When Elections are not Enough”, in Democratizing the Constitution: Reforming Responsible Government, Toronto, Emond Montgomery Publications, 155-202. 

Peter Aucoin, Mark Jarvis and Lori Turnbull (2011) “The Prime Minister and the House of Commons: The Democratic Deficit”, in Democratizing the Constitution: Reforming Responsible Government, Toronto, Emond Montgomery Publications, 111-154.

Nic Nanos (2011) “From a nothing election to a seismic shift”, Policy Options, July Issue, Montreal, IRPP, 14-16.

Stuart Soroka, Fred Cutler, Dietlind Stolle and Patrick Fournier (2011) “Capturing Change (and Continuity) in the 2011 Campaign”, Policy Options, July Issue, Montreal, IRPP, 70-77.

Toronto – PPG1001

Abelson, Julia, Mark E. Warren, and Pierre-Gerlier Forest. 2012. “The Future of Public Deliberation on Health Issues.” Hastings Center Report (March-April): pp. 27-29.

Michels, Ank and Laurens de Graaf. 2010. “Examining Citizen Participation: Local Participatory Policy Making and Democracy.” Local Government Studies 36, 4: pp. 477-491.

Montpetit, Eric and Christian Rouillard. 2008. “Culture and the Democratization of Risk Management: The Widening Biotechology Gap between Canada and France.” Administration and Society 39, 8: pp. 907-930.

Skogstad, Grace. 2003. “Who Governs? Who Should Govern? Political Authority and Legitimacy in Canada in the Twenty-First Century.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 36, 5: pp. 955-974.

Barnes, Marian. 2003. “Constituting ‘the Public’ in Public Participation.” Public Administration 81, 2: pp. 379-399.

Pierre, Jon. “Public Consultation and Citizen Participation: Dilemmas of Policy Advice.” In Taking Stock: Assessing Public Sector Reforms. Eds. B.Guy Peters and Donald J. Savoie.

Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s U.P., 1998, 137-63. Online:

Vogel, David. 2012. The Politics of Precaution: Regulating Health, Safety, and Environmental Risks in Europe and the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, passim.

Walters, Lawrence C, et al. 2000. “Putting More Public in Policy Analysis.” Public Administration Review 60, 4: pp. 349-359.

Sask-Regina JSGS801

David Smith. 2007. “Clarifying the doctrine of ministerial responsibility as it applies to the government and parliament of Canada.” Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities Research.  Studies I. 101-43. Available at:

C. Polidano. 1998. “Why bureaucrats can’t always do what ministers want: multiple accountabilities in Westminster democracies.” Public Policy and Administration, 13(1): 35-50.

O. Soudry. 2007. “A principal-agent analysis of accountability in public procurement”, in P. Piga and K.V. Thai, (Eds), Advancing public procurement: Practices, innovation and knowledge-sharing, PrAcademics Press, Boca Raton, FL. Available at:

Nicolas D’Ombrain. 2007. “Ministerial Responsibility and the Machinery of Government,” Canadian Public Administration 50: 195-218.

Parliament of Canada. 2013. "The doctrine of ministerial responsibility." Governance in the Public Service of Canada.

American GOVT656

Niemi, Richard G and Herbert F. Weisberg. Controversies in Voting Behavior.  San Francisco: W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd, 1976. Part VI, Party System Change

Zaller, John R.. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.  Ch. 10

Popkin, Samuel L. The Reasoning Voter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. Chs. 6-11


Deborah A. Stone. Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making, 3rd Ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011.  Introduction, Chapters 1-4, 6-9, 11-14, Conclusion.

“Memo Writing.” The Electronic Hallway, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington, 20.

R. Kent Weaver. Ending Welfare as We Know It. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2000. Chapter 6, “The Role of Policy Research,” pp. 135-168.

HKS – DPI101

Maurice Duverger, 1972, “Factors in a Two-Party and Multiparty System,” in Party Politics and Pressure Groups, Crowell, pp. 23-32.

Martin Shefter, 1977, “Party and Patronage: Germany, England, and Italy,” Politics and Society, 7(4), pp. 403-451.

David Samuels, 2004, “From Socialism to Social Democracy: Party Organization and the Transformation of the Worker’s Party in Brazil.” Comparative Political Studies 37(9), pp. 999-1024.

Pippa Norris, 1997, “Choosing Electoral Systems: Proportional, Majoritarian, and Mixed Systems,” International Political Science Review, 18 (3).

Donald Horowitz, 2003, “Electoral Systems: A Primer for Decision Makers,” Journal of Democracy 14 (4), pp. 115-127.

Torben Iversen and David Soskice, 2006, “Electoral Institutions and the Politics of Coalitions: Why Some Democracies Redistribute More Than Others,” American Political Science Review100 (2), pp. 165-181.

Rutgers 34:833:510

Gormley, William. T. 2012. Voices for Children: Rhetoric and Public Policy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Chapter 5.

Dreier, Peter, and Christopher R. Martin. 2010. "How ACORN Was Framed: Political Controversy and Media Agenda Setting." Perspectives on Politics 8(3): 761-792.

Evans, Heather K., Victoria Cordova, and Savannah Sipole. 2014. "Twitter Style: An Analysis of How House Candidates Used Twitter in Their 2012 Campaigns." PS: Political Science and Politics 47(2):  454-462.

Geer, John B. 2012. "The News Media and the Rise of Negativity in Presidential Campaigns." PS: Political Science and Politics 45(3): 422-427.                 

Gormley, William. T. 2012. Voices for Children: Rhetoric and Public Policy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Chapter 6.

Bawn, Kathleen, Martin Cohen, David Karol, Seth Masket, Hans Noel, and John Zaller.  2012. "A Theory of Political Parties: Groups, Policy Demands,  and Nominations in American Politics." Perspectives on Politics 10(3): 571-597.

Williamson, Vanessa, Theda Skocpol, and John Coggin.  2011. "The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism."  Perspectives on Politics 9(1): 25-43.

Milkis, Sidney M., Jesse H. Rhodes, and Emily J. Charnock.  2012. "What Happened to Post-Partisanship? Barack Obama and the New American Party System." Perspectives on Politics 10(1): 57-76.

Sample Assessment Questions:

      1.)   Some scholars and commentators have posited that a “democratic deficit” exists in Canada. What do they mean by this statement?

      2.)   What is Ministerial Responsibility? Why is this an important concept in the Westminster parliamentary system?

      3.)   Describe some of the most important differences between the Canadian and American electoral systems. How can these difference influence the policy process? Discuss in a short 2-3 page paper.

      4.)    What is a “brokerage” party and explain the importance of this concept in the context of advanced democracies.

Page Created By: Katherine Valiquette, 18 April 2015; edited by Ben Eisen.


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School of Public Policy and Governance