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Splitting Image: Partisan Affiliations in Canada's "Two Political Worlds"

Eric M. Uslaner
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 34, No. 4 (Nov., 1990), pp. 961-981
DOI: 10.2307/2111467
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111467
Page Count: 21
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Splitting Image: Partisan Affiliations in Canada's
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Abstract

Over 20% of Canadians have different political party identifications at the federal and provincial levels. This pattern of split-level identification has been assumed to be part of the general weakness of partisanship in Canada but, outside of a study of British Columbians, has not been examined itself. Two explanations for split-level identification are posited, an institutionalist thesis that argues that partisanship is weaker in Canada than it is in the United States and the differences are ultimately traceable to the structure of political institutions. The second maintains that partisanship plays largely the same role in the two countries, but what differences there are can be traced to historical patterns of Canadian cultural (and party) development. Tests of the two explanations indicate some support for each, but much more for the historical/cultural thesis. This in turn suggests that reforming Canadian political institutions will not in itself lead to a rejuvenation of partisanship and a decline in split-level identification.

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