Consensus Confusion: Why do Incumbent Candidates Lose in Non-partisan Electoral Systems?

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: social sciences, politics, legislative assembly, Consensus Government

Principal Investigator: Yurris, Christopher Keith (1)
Licence Number: 16748
Organization: St. Francis Xavier University
Licensed Year(s): 2020
Issued: Sep 15, 2020

Objective(s): To determine whether the newly introduced midterm review in the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly has been an effective mechanism for governmental accountability which has thus been reflective in subsequent elections.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.4795.

The main goal for this research project is to determine whether the newly introduced midterm review in the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly has been an effective mechanism for governmental accountability which has thus been reflective in subsequent elections.

This research will contribute to good governance in the North, because it will help in determining what political accountability mechanisms are currently operative in the Northwest Territories. Additionally, findings and research strategies used in this study can be transferred and utilized to undergo comparative research on the Nunavut Legislative Assembly, as it also operates a non-partisan consensus style legislature. Much of the scholarly work on consensus government in the Northwest Territories is over a decade old, with much of the work being done in the 1990s and early 2000s. Previous studies need to be updated to consider current events and political trends.

The research team will translate the public record into analyzable quantitative data; this will include electoral results, along with media discourse. Subsequently, the qualitative interviews will supplement the quantitative data to provide a better understanding of the logic behind the relationship.

Data for this study collected through interviews with key individuals, including Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), along with former members and unsuccessful candidates. These interviews will be informal and qualitative and will only deal with the technical and public work of the participants. The interviews done in person will be conducted in the public offices of the participants, unless the participant suggests an alternative location (e.g. coffee shop, public meeting place, etc.). Interviews will be conducted consistent with public health recommendations concerning the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; thus, interviews may be conducted remotely.

Along with an initial pre-set of questions, participants will be encouraged to share stories in narrative form and share ideas that go beyond the preliminary objectives and goals of this study. In effect, the participants will have the option of directing the conversation and talking about ideas and information they have knowledge of and are comfortable discussing. In the case of e-mail or phone interviews, consent forms will be emailed to the offices of the participants for their signatures. With the consent of the participants, all interviews will be audio or video recorded.

Since communications are with MLAs and individual people, such as election officials and government employees, no stakeholders or community organizations are involved in the research. However, staff at the Legislative Assembly of the NWT may be contacted to gain interview access with the MLAs. Open NWT has been contacted to obtain electoral data; however they will not be involved any further in the research.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 16, 2020 to December 31, 2020.