Party Conventions

The Liberal Party of Canada, the ‘natural governing party’ that is currently out of government, just wrapped up their leadership convention. There were 8 candidates going in and the guy who was in 4th place in delegate support going in came out the winner on the 4th ballot.

It was interesting watching it unfold. There must be some pretty good books written about the psychology and game theory of the conventions. Put 5000 people in a room and strange things start to happen.

Are party conventions in the US often interesting, or are they simply coronations? Are conventions more democratic or less democratic than simply going with the person with the greatest support going in?

The kookiest thing about the Liberal convention is that their rivals, the Conservatives, are taking credit for gaming the convention by leaking false documents that made it look like they feared one of the candidates more than another, and by flooding the actual convention with specific anti-candidate schwag.

And they’re proud of it!

The US conventions haven’t been interesting since 1968. Everything’s decided long beforehand in the party primaries (which IMHO is how it should be; despite all the faults of primaries elections > decisions in smoke-filled back rooms). Last election the networks only carried a few hours of coverage since they basically are nothing but tightly scripted commercials for the party now.

Even in Canada, the convention era is nearing an end. The Liberals are, I think, the last major national party to not have the entire membership vote on its leader, preferring the delegate selection process.