Who gets to pick the party leader?

In reviewing William Cross and Andre Blais’ new study of how leaders are chosen in English parliamentary systems, Christopher Moore quotes William Hague, the British foreign minister who was dispatched by his own caucus when he led the Conservative party a decade ago.

“Having the leader elected in parliament strengthens parliament itself. Without the power to change the leader, to elect the prime minister, backbench MPs would have less influence, would have less power over their party leader. All of us who are constituency MPs, trying to represent our constituents and our interests in different parts of the country, know that we are strengthened by having this colossal power at our disposal. In other systems, where party conventions do the choosing of the leader, individual members of Parliament have less influence throughout most of the life of the parliament. And it can very clearly be argued that democracy suffers as a result because the ability of members of Parliament to bring influence to bear is fundamental to democracy.”

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