Comparative Politics



B04(b) - Citoyenneté et représentation dans une perspective comparée

Date: May 30 | Time: 01:30pm to 03:00pm | Location:

Chair/Président/Présidente : François Gélineau (Université Laval)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Marc A. Bodet (Université Laval)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Jean-Benoît Pilet (Université Libre de Bruxelles)

More Democratic? The evolution of leadership selection parameters in Canada from 2012-2022: Audrey Brennan (U. Laval / ULB)
Abstract: Many have written on leadership selection mechanisms (Cross and Pilet 2016; Pilet and Cross 2015) and the alleged decentralization of leadership selection rules (Kenig 2009). We also know that some parties have not yet decentralized (Cross and Pilet 2016) and that parties often adopt reforms following an election loss (Leduc 2001). But we do not know much about the other selection parameters, such as entrance fees or leadership candidate interviews. Indeed, as Aylott and Bolin (2021) show, parties can find different ways of counteracting the different rules of intra-party democracy. Consequently, it is essential to determine: what other parameters are adopted and when? What trends exist in the adoption of different parameters, if any? Does legislating leadership selection have any influence on leadership selection parameters? Using party statutes from both federal and provincial parties in Canada from 2012 to 2022, this paper looks at the evolution of leadership selection parameters across political parties. Doing so allows us to identify different trends if any. We can also consider the influence between Canadian party families and between different levels of government. Finally, to determine whether there is a link between legislation and party rules, this paper also considers whether there may be a connection between the adoption of leadership finance laws and a party’s financial regulations for a given leadership selection process.


MPs’ discourses on participatory democracy in French-speaking Belgium: a textometric analysis: Caroline Close (Université Libre de Bruxelles - Charleroi), Sacha Rangoni (Université Libre de Bruxelles)
Abstract: Political parties’ position and support for participatory devices can be ambivalent: while increasing citizens’ participation may be detrimental to parties’ power over decision-making, supporting participatory devices has become crucial to attract public opinion and voters’ support. Recent studies put to light that while parties have increasingly adopted participatory devices internally and have been supportive of participatory reform in the broader political system, in fact parties differ greatly in the degree of support they give to democratic innovations, as well as in the type of instruments they favor. Existing research focuses on both strategic and ideological explanations for this variation but is somehow too much interested in support for specific devices (especially, referendum), and barely allows to dig deeper into parties and their members’ broader perception of (what should be) participatory democracy. In this contribution, we focus on MPs’ discourse on participatory democracy by using 77 face-to-face interviews with French-speaking Belgian MPs sitting in federal or regional parliaments (Wallonia, Brussels), which we plan to analyze through TXM textometric analysis. Indeed, to our knowledge, little research on elites’ support for democratic innovation has used this type of analytical approach and tool. Our contribution is exploratory in that regard: we aim to test the extent to which textometry may be useful to explore differences between parties, but also within them. Indeed, we expect that MPs’ perceptions of citizens’ participation will relate to their party’s conception of democracy, which takes roots in different ways of conceiving representation process and roles.


When citizens have the final say on restrictions of their freedom during a pandemic: Switzerland’s referendums on the Covid-19 Act: Oscar Mazzoleni (University of Lausanne), Laurent Bernhard (University of Lausanne and University of Zurich)
Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has represented one the most crucial challenge for democracies since the end of World War II. In order to contain the propagation of the virus and protect health of millions of citizens some taken-for-granted rights used to be restricted for months. Public authorities saw themselves forced to enact far-reaching measures such as lockdowns, thereby causing major discontent among citizens. This article proposes to focus on Switzerland due to the fact that is the only country in the world in which citizens had the opportunity to challenge government policies in the framework of two referendums. By examining the motives that led citizens to either accept or reject the introduction as well as a reform of the federal Covid-19 Act, we highlight a new conflict over two visions of freedom in contemporary constitutional democracies: The one based on the protective role of the state aiming to guarantee common freedom and the other stressing anti-state libertarian legacies of individual freedom.


Generational renewal, attitudes towards elections, and transformation of political participation: Vincent Tiberj (Science Po Bordeaux)
Abstract: When we analyse how abstention has evolved since the 1980s, we can see that electoral participation is less and less automatic, and often young people are blamed for this. However, firstly it is intermittent abstention and not systematic abstention that is progressing. Secondly, the traditional explanation based on the political moratorium of young people, although still relevant, is no longer sufficient to account for the behaviour of French voters. Finally, the decentralisation of the vote above all relies on generational renewal and the transformation of civic cultures that results. In the generations born before the war, duty voting persisted but this is less the case for post-baby-boom generations. However, in recent cohorts, it is important to distinguish between citizens who are politically involved, for whom the vote is one form of action among others, and citizens who have broken away from voting but also from other forms of participation. For the latter, who we observe among those with lower levels of education and members of the working classes, this can result in political silence. Their absence from voting booths and social movements is a major challenge for French democracy.