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The Reform party image: fact or fiction? Francis, Jennifer


This paper examines the nature of support for the Reform Party of Canada in the 1993 federal election. First, a general hypothesis of the typical Reform voter is established. This profile is based on an investigation of the party’s historical precedents, the political beliefs of the leader, policies and platforms, and the media portrayal of the Reform party. After establishing the Reform profile, the hypothesis is then compared with data from the 1993 National Election Study (NES). The NES data reflects a wide range of public sentiments, reporting the structure of opinion on many salient public issues. By using the crosstabulation procedure, the extent to which voting Reform is linked with particular sentiments is revealed. The result of this exercise is a confirmation of the Reform profile. Voting Reform was linked to economic liberalism: Reformers are likely to be concerned about the deficit and high taxation, favour freer trade flows, and are likely to cut rather than maintain social programs. Socially and morally, the data confirmed that Reformers are likely to maintain a traditional or conservative position. An exception to this forecast was that one’s position on abortion was irrelevant to voting Reform. As predicted, Reformers are more likely than not to be hostile toward differential treatment for ethnic minorities, and to want decreased levels of immigration. True to the Reform profile, voting Reform was linked to political alienation, but it was also linked to high levels of political interest. In a few areas, the data on demographic variables contradicted the Reform profile: voting Reform was not linked with church membership, nor with a belief in the importance of God. As well, older voters are not more likely to vote Reform, as projected. Overall, the NES data confirms the initial profile of the study and it is concluded that the Reform vote in the 1993 election substantiates the popular image of the party.

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