Evaluations and Evolution: Public Attitudes toward Canada's Federal Political Parties, 1965–1991
AbstractThis article employs national survey data gathered over the past quarter century to analyze the evolution and present state of public attitudes toward Canada's federal political parties. A 1991 survey employing new questions on evaluations of party performance reveals that these evaluations are structured in terms of two dimensions, and that negative judgments on both dimensions are pervasive. The significance of the current negativism is assessed using 1965–1991 data on Canadians' feelings about and identifications with the federal parties. Although for a long time party affect has been lukewarm at best, and partisanship has been weak and unstable, negative trends have magnified the disaffection and dealignment. The discontent has accelerated in recent years, as the percentage of Liberal and Progressive Conservative identifiers has plummeted, and the non-identifier group has swelled to record levels, particularly in Quebec. The article concludes by considering the implications of these findings for the future of the federal party system.
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