Leadership and ideology in conflict : an analysis of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador 1995-96

Scott, G. Douglas (1999) Leadership and ideology in conflict : an analysis of the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador 1995-96. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis analyzes the roles of factionalism and ideology as factors in the political defeat of the first female leader of the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. Lynn Verge was elected leader of the party in April 1995 by a narrow margin of three votes and defeated by the electorate of the province on February 22,1996 before resigning as PC leader several days later. -- This thesis argues that Lynn Verge's electoral defeat was preceded by internal factional infighting which denied her the opportunity to develop effective leadership. Historical issues affecting the leadership of the PC Party are examined, including the effects of accommodation and coalition-building on party ideology through both good times and bad — when the PC Party formed government and when they were in opposition. It is argued that the factionalism which split the party was just one of four factors which led to the defeat of the PC Party in the 1996 provincial election. The three contributing and inter-related factors which exacerbated the factionalism included: the opposition status of the PC Party between 1989 and 1996; the introduction of the ideology of feminism to a party already split along right-left conservative views; and the incapacity of Lynn Verge as leader when authority and legitimacy of leadership were denied her by the PC caucus. -- The greatest influence on the PC Party in the period under study was the competing values of the two factions within caucus. These competing values became much more rigid when the influence of Lynn Verge's feminism caused those on the left of the conservative political spectrum to move slightly further to the left, and those on the right ofthe same spectrum to become resistant to attempts by Verge and her followers to change the party. -- The PC Party had been in opposition to the governing Liberals from 1989, and an entrenched opposition syndrome worked against the party's efforts to establish itself as a viable alternative to the Liberals. The thesis argues that leadership of a political party is one of the key influences to mitigate against factional infighting and the opposition syndrome, and that Lynn Verge was denied the opportunity to lead because she failed - because of inaction — to meet the challenge of leadership, and she failed because she was denied the legitimacy of leadership by a divided caucus.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1104
Item ID: 1104
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 77-79
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Political Science
Date: 1999
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Verge, Lynn; Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador; Political leadership--Newfoundland and Labrador

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