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Political Parties and Democracy: Volume I: The Americas by Kay Lawson, Jorge Lanzaro

By Kay Lawson, Jorge Lanzaro

Scholars provide sincerely written insurance of the connection among political events and democracy within the Western Hemisphere.

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By constitutional amendment in 1951, the president can serve only two terms. A Work in Progress 31 Elections for state and local offices also are not always synchronized with each other or with elections for national office. This scattering of elections with differing terms of office for different chambers of the legislature and for the executive was designed to guard against a strong, though perhaps temporary, majority taking control of the entire government in one or two elections and swiftly imposing its will with no protection of minority rights.

About two-thirds of party members are men, with an average age around 60, and most of these are of European ancestry. 36 The parties have not been insensitive or obtuse about these discrepancies and the criticisms they have provoked. In the 1970s and 1980s, the parties made efforts to attract more women, youth, and ethnic minorities into their membership. Internal party structures were created in order to effect the greater participation of these underrepresented groups, with the New Democratic and Liberal parties going farthest in order to ensure a more representative membership base.

More recently, an exacerbation of the tendency to regional fragmentation seems to have generated growing levels of voter dissatisfaction and alienation from a political system that consistently fails to reflect voter preferences accurately. Already in 1991, the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing was reporting on the profound concerns of Canadians about the state of their liberal democracy, noting the widespread distrust of political leaders, the political process, and political institutions.

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