The possibility of rulers being constitutionally driven from office in a free election is relatively new in the history of government. The voters who now hold this power in the liberal democracies can, of course, exercise it only by selecting between alternatives that have been defined by competing leaders or groups. In Britain it is the political parties that provide the focus of choice. Indeed, in the longer historical view, parties antedate the mass electorate since it was the parties who enfranchised the voters and mobilized their support. But the public is not the creature of the parties, and the ebbs and flows of popular favour affect, often in quite unexpected ways, the whole conduct of British government.
KeywordsParty System Labour Party Electoral Change Party Support Party Allegiance
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