UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Leadership exit: the departure of provincial party leaders Maisey, Murray D.


Canadian party leadership studies have tended to focus on the ways leaders are selected without considering how leadership careers end. Data was assembled on the careers of 138 provincial party leaders during the past forty years to answer two related questions: How long did leadership careers last, and under what conditions did leaders leave (or "exit") their positions? Most party leadership careers were brief. More than half of all leaders led their parties through no more than one general election. Longevity differed by political party, with the average length of leadership being greater among C.C.F. / N.D.P. leaders than among those of Liberal and Conservative parties. More than two-fifths of all leaders exited their positions for electoral reasons, and more than one-quarter of all leaders were personally defeated in elections or by-elections. Electoral exits were slightly more common among Liberal and Conservative leaders than among C.C.F. / N.D.P. leaders. Leaders who were successful in leading governments tended to have much longer leadership careers than other leaders. Premier leaders were more likely to make voluntary exits, and were less susceptible to election-related departures than less successful leaders. Little evidence was found to support the hypothesis that C.C.F. / N.D.P. provincial parties which enjoyed some success in forming governments were any more competitive (from the perspective of leadership exit) than were C.C.F. / N.D.P. parties which had been unsuccessful in forming governments. Most party leaders had pre-leadership elected experience at either the provincial or federal level. Experience prior to leadership careers seemed to serve as a "hedge" against leadership exits caused by personal defeat at the polls. "Experienced" leaders, however, were no more likely than others to have long careers. More than one-quarter of former leaders became M.L.A.s or M.P.s after exit. Most of those with post-leadership elected careers had relatively long leadership careers, and most had left their leadership positions involuntarily. About one-fifth of all party leaders had elected service both before and after their leadership careers.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.