Two Political Worlds: Parties and Voting in British Columbia

Description

205 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
$19.95
ISBN 0-7748-0223-5

Year

1985

Contributor

Reviewed by Eric P. Mintz

Eric P. Mintz is an associate professor of political science and
environmental studies at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial
University of Newfoundland.

Review

Based on the findings of a major survey of the B.C. electorate conducted in 1979, this book examines how voters relate to the different worlds of provincial and federal politics. Unlike many studies of voting behavior, Professor Blake’s work devotes considerable attention to the context in which electoral choice occurs and to the ideological and other general attitudes that differentiate the supporters of different parties.

Although B.C. provincial politics has often been thought to reflect the presence of sharp class conflict, Blake explains support for the Social Credit and New Democratic parties primarily in terms of differing attitudes toward individual versus collective responsibility. Class differences in voting behavior do exist, but the NDP has gained substantial support from public sector professionals and managers, while the Social Credit Party draws an important part of its support from those working-class voters who are individualistic in outlook. At the federal level, party politics is more complex, involving cultural and regional concerns which differentiate PC from Liberal supporters as well as the economic concerns that differentiate NDP supporters from those who support the other parties. In particular, the support enjoyed by the PCs in 1979 appears to have been based on that party’s ability to mobilize those opposed to the centralist and bilingual policies associated with the Trudeau Liberals.

Despite the uniqueness of the B.C. party system, Blake argues that mobilization around economic issues occurs in other provincial systems, creating potentially separate federal and provincial party systems. And with a relatively low level of class consciousness, high level of support for the Canadian political community, and lack of sharp ideological polarization, the B.C. electorate appears basically similar to the electorate in most other parts of Canada.

Overall, this is an excellent book that should be read by all serious students of Canadian politics. However, a more thorough examination of the ideological and attitudinal scales developed in the study and some analysis of the links between these scales, attitudes on specific political issues, and other “short-term” factors involved in voting decisions would have strengthened important aspects of the study.

Citation

Blake, Donald E., “Two Political Worlds: Parties and Voting in British Columbia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/36298.