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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Canadian political party practices and the candidacy of women in the 1988 national election Rohde, Colleen G


Canada's three major political parties have lamented the lack of women seeking candidacy for national office. Yet few organizational efforts have been used to increase the number of women candidates and Members of Parliament. Given the important role political parties play in mediating and structuring legislative candidacies, the candidate selection process and party practices can act as barriers to female political aspirants, both at the nomination and election stages. This thesis analyzes both aggregate election data and the results of a systematic, constituency level, survey of the nomination processes of the New Democratic, Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties conducted at the time of the 1988 general election. The thesis finds that much of the explanation for lack of representation can be found in the practice of all three parties to nominate disproportionate numbers of women candidates in ridings where they have little chance of success. Limited competition for nominations and the practice of all parties not to challenge incumbents who seek reselection also benefit women candidates less than they do their male counterparts. This thesis argues that use of structures such as selection committees and encouragement from national party officials for local associations to nominate women can have a positive impact on the number of women who seek political candidacy.

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