Breaking through: measuring a third party's pathway to power in Nova Scotia, Canada

Chezenko, Griffyn G. (2019) Breaking through: measuring a third party's pathway to power in Nova Scotia, Canada. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Nova Scotia's politics have historically been defined by their tendency towards “tradition and conservatism” (Beck, 1954; 1978). Provincial elections, for instance, typically had two competitors, the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties, with a minimal presence among third parties. Moreover, as elections in Nova Scotia are conducted within the confines of a plurality system, the presence of a two-party system in the province served as an example of Duverger's Law (1955) at work, a theory which claims that two-partism naturally occurs where plurality electoral systems are in place. Since the 1998 general election, however, Nova Scotia has experienced a series of elections that are indicative of a shift towards a three-party system, as the New Democratic party (NSNDP) has emerged from its position as the perennial third party to form both the official opposition and, in 2009, the first ever NSNDP government. Drawing upon data found in election returns, this thesis employs measures taken from the political science literature, such as the effective number of parties (ENP), to explore the dynamics of electoral competition in Nova Scotia over the last 85 years, with particular emphasis placed on the performance of the third party. The question driving this research, namely how the historically third-place NSNDP emerged as a viable governing alternative to the two traditional parties, will be explored by analyzing the data herein, and by examining possible cleavages that created the opportunity for a third party to break through as a primary competitor and potential government-in-waiting, regardless of an electoral system that purportedly permits just two parties to thrive.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 14259
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 109-116).
Keywords: Nova Scotia, elections, party systems, Duverger's Law, third parties
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Political Science
Date: October 2019
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Nova Scotia--Politics and government--21st Century.

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