The Election of the Leader by Party Members: Liberals, Social Democrats and Liberal Democrats

  • R. M. Punnett
Part of the Contemporary Political Studies book series (CONTPOLSTUD)


The reservations that are felt by many about the ‘the voice of the people’, and are captured in this candidate’s reaction to electoral defeat, are hardly supportive of selection procedures that are based on direct democracy. The election of the leader through a ballot of party members will only be acceptable to parties and politicians that have faith in the political maturity and judgement of the rank and file. What is more, in practical terms leader-selection by a ballot of party members is a process that can only be used by a party that has a clearly identifiable membership and an efficient organization that is capable of communicating directly with all of the individual members (two features that certainly cannot be assumed to characterize all modern parties).


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  1. 2.
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    For more details of the changes of leader in the old Liberal party see R. Douglas, The History of the Liberal Party 1895–1970 (London, 1971);Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© R. M. Punnett 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. M. Punnett
    • 1
  1. 1.University of StrathclydeUK

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