Debating on leadership selectorate_how should we choose a party leader?

Politics at the Centre: the selection and removal of party leaders in the Anglo Parliamentary Democracies,
*William Cross
*Andre Blais
Oxford University Press.2012. Page 168-171

Rational of focusing on the leadership selection:

We began this book with the twin observation that political parties operate at the center of modern democracies, and that their leaders exercise considerable authority over political affairs both within and outside the party.
We have argued that given this centrality of party leaders in public decision-making, it is important to consider how they are elected, and, how, and to whom, they are held to account.

Rational of broadening party leadership selectorate

① Anti-elite

Elite control of the leadership selection process is perceived to be ‘anti-democratic’
greater democratization of the selectorates

② Strategy to attract new members

The leadership campaign is an opportunity for the party to revitalize by attracting new members, and that the participation of large numbers of voters gives the leader greater legitimacy and a broader mandate

③ Prevention of declining membership

Parties have an interest in building an activist core. Declining rates of voter turnout in many countries make these local, priming activities all the more important. Parties also benefit from large membership through claims that this provides them with greater legitimacy and strengthens their ties with civil society.
(Seyd, 1999) One of the reasons their numbers are in declining is because of a sense on the part of partisans that there is little meaningful power granted to rank-and-file members. (Cross and Yong, 2008) They increasingly view parties as elite dominated. Including members in the choice of the leader provides them with influence over one of the party’s most important decisions may provide an important incentive to membership.

Rational of Limitations on the size of selectorate

① Professional and effective judgment

It is the parliamentary who are best to judge the relative merits of would-be of the principal tasks of the leader is to direct the party in parliament and that it is crucial that she has the support of the parliamentary caucus to do so effectively. The MPs are best situated to judge the candidates’ abilities to lead the party in election campaigns. It is in the party’s interest to place the selection authority with those who have a strong personal incentive to choose an electorally successful leader. 

(But is it for party’s interests or for the people?)

② Threatens the integrity of the party

It undercuts the integrity of the party. It places brand new recruits, with no history of party activism, on equal footing with longtime activities who have an ongoing commitment to the party’s well-being. This has led to charges of the leadership being decided by ‘tourists’ to the party.

*Seyd,Partrick 1999. “New Parties/New Politics? A Case Study of the British Labor Party” Party Politics 5 (3), pp383-405

*Cross, William & Lisa Yong. 2008. “Factors Influencing the Decision of Young Political Engaged to Join a Political Party: A Investigation of the Canadian Case”, Party Politics 14 (3), pp. 345-69.


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