We study the degree of formal influence that rank-and-file members have on the selection of party leaders in the five English-speaking Westminster countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. We find that in recent years there has been a general, though not universal, trend towards granting party members greater influence in the choice of their leader. We observe that the decision to broaden the selectorate has been made by most parties in the UK, Canada and Ireland, while parties in Australia and New Zealand have generally resisted reform. We set out a series of four hypotheses explaining the decisions made by parties in the first three countries. We show that this organizational reform is adopted by parties in opposition, in the aftermath of an electoral setback and by new parties. We also find a strong contagion effect within party systems. Finally, we offer an explanation for why the Australian and New Zealand cases have resulted in less change.

Additional Metadata
Keywords intra party democracy, party leaders, party members, party organizational change, political parties
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1177/1354068810382935
Journal Party Politics
Cross, W, & Blais, A. (André). (2012). Who selects the party leader?. Party Politics, 18(2), 127–150. doi:10.1177/1354068810382935