By-elections in constituencies such
as Orpington, Bermondsey, and Govan generate headline news in
England and raise fundamental questions concerning why third
parties manage unexpected breakthroughs, and why the government
consistently loses support through the "mid-term blues." The
first systematic study of British by-elections, this book
addresses these questions through an analysis of postwar trends
in party support. The first section addresses changes in
campaigns, contrasting the stable by-elections of the postwar
decade with the more volatile races characteristic of today. The
second section explores systematic trends in the light of
theories of partisan alignment and retrospective voting and
analyzes the influence of the role of the candidate, party
organization, the media, and opinion polls. With an essential
reference section listing changes in party support in almost
four hundred British by-elections since 1945, this will be the
standard work of reference on a subject of continuing
significance on the British political scene.
Copyright 2004 Pippa Norris, John F.
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138.