A Polity on the Edge: Canada and the Politics of Fragmentation
Winner: 2001 Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award
This is a book about forces challenging the continued integrity of Canada, one of the world's oldest and most admired democracies. It focuses on six critical events, beginning with the 1988 federal election and the fierce debate over the risks of free trade with the United States for Canada's economy and cherished social programs. It ends with the 1998 re-election of the Parti Québécois and the possibility of a third sovereignty referendum. Collectively, these events have pushed Canada to the edge of disintegration. The book's analyses and interpretations of these events are based on a unique collection of survey data gathered over the past two decades. Conversations with thousands of Canadians map the dynamics of public beliefs, attitudes and behavior in an era of economic dislocation and political crisis. Struggling to adapt its political institutions and processes to regional and ethno-linguistic cleavages invigorated by forces of economic restructuring and globalization, Canada exemplifies many of the "forces from above and below" that have beset democracies, new and old alike, in recent years. By explaining how these forces have brought a "charter member" of that very special political club to the brink of fragmentation, this book will be of interest to all those concerned with the future of democracy in polycommunal societies.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 336 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
A Polity on the Edge is a brilliant investigation of why citizens' attachment to Canada, one of the world's most successful mature democracies, is eroding. Using a unique and rich body of survey data collected over several decades, the authors demonstrate how economic hard times, festering ethnic tensions, and the actions of leaders have led citizens to withdraw support from authorities, parties, and, in Quebec, the national political community itself. It is a superb example of how astute analysis of empirical data can illuminate the origins and probable futures of the threats faced by all polities.
Samuel Barnes, Georgetown University
...a treasure trove of survey-research data and sophisticated analysis...an indispensable reference book on the political history of Canada in the 1980s and 1990s.
Tom Flanagan, University of Calgary
Powerful! Using national surveys as well as surveys of the Quebec electorate, A Polity on the Edge is a brilliant assessment of Canada's viability as a nation.
Richard Price, University of Windsor
Author InformationHarold D. Clarke is the Ashbel Smith Professor in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Allan Kornberg is the Norb F. Schaefer Professor of Political Science at Duke University. He is the co-author, with Harold Clarke, of Citizens and Community: Political Support in a Representative Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 1992) and has written widely in books and journals on political parties, legislatures, and comparative political behavior.
Peter Wearing is former Senior Project Director, Canadian Facts.
Table of contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
1. A Mature Democracy at Risk
2. The Dynamics of Political Support
3. Taking the Blame
4. Last Chance?
5. Doing Politics Differently
6. To the Brink
7. Tired and Found Wanting
8. No Winners
10. On the Edge
Appendix: Data Sources
Subjects and Courses