Richard Johnston

Canada Research Chair in Public Opinion, Elections and Representation

Tier 1 - 2017-11-01
Renewed: 2017-07-01
The University of British Columbia
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council


Coming to Canada From

University of Pennsylvania, USA

Research involves

Using survey and archival data to study public opinion and elections in Canada and abroad.

Research relevance

This research aims to understand the interaction between electoral institutions and voters’ behaviour central to better understanding the slowly unfolding crisis in Canada’s parliament.

Are We Taking Democracy for Granted?

Canadians have grown accustomed to single-party majority governments, but may never see another one again. The slowly unfolding crisis in Canada’s parliament may be only the tip of a global iceberg. Minority governments and coalitions are actually quite common on the world’s parliamentary landscape, but the configuration of parties in Canada does not bode well for a long-term recovery.

Dr. Richard Johnston forecasted the crisis in 2000. His work shows that the system has been sliding toward crisis for decades. As Canada Research Chair in Public Opinion, Elections and Representation, he will devote some of his research to gaining both historically grounded and analytic purchase on the problem.

Johnston brings a comparative perspective to his work, as he is also a leading scholar of elections in the United States. His work with the National Annenberg Election Study has set the standard for studying presidential campaigns. He is also extending his survey research work and his insights on presidential elections to collaborate with scholars studying elections in various European countries.

Johnston hopes to lead cross-university and multidisciplinary research on the performance of parliamentary and electoral institutions. The institutional foundations of democracy remain matters of controversy, but scholars such as Johnston have never been better positioned for a full-scale assault on these questions.