Engineering realignment: an analysis of the United Alternative initiative
LE3 .A278 2001
Bachelor of Arts
In 1998, Reform Party of Canada leader Preston Manning delivered a keynote address at his party's biennial convention in London, Ontario, where he proposed that his party explore the prospect of political realignment through a movement that came to be known as the United Alternative (UA) initiative. Its purpose was quite simple -unite conservatives of all partisan and ideological stripes (particularly members of the Reform and Progressive Conservative parties) under one partisan banner that would be capable of challenging the Liberal government in every region of the country, election after election. This thesis employs a rational choice framework to examine Manning's reasoning, and seeks to determine the societal conditions that have produced political realignments in the Canadian polity. Using historical case studies, it was found that past realignments had emerged out of jarring societal events or charismatic leadership personalities that had been able to shatter existing bases of social support, leaving new movements in their wake. The end result of the UA initiative -the Canadian Alliance -was partly successful in building a broader national conservative coalition. Ultimately, however, it was unable to provoke the jarring societal event or produce the charismatic leader needed to realign the system from its current bases.
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