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The Constitution Act (British Columbia) provides a definition of a party as ‘…an affiliation of electors comprised in a political organization whose prime purpose is the fielding of candidates for election to the legislative assembly …’ (section 1).  For a party’s name to appear on the ballot paper at an election for the legislative assembly, and for a party to gain tax and other financial benefits, the party must be registered under the Election Act (British Columbia)  (Part 9).
Parties as we know them today first contested provincial elections in British Columbia in 1903.  Before that date, government majorities were maintained by loose groups of members of the legislature united by a general stance on public policy, by loyalty to a particular leader, or by the hope of advancement.  The label ‘ministerialist’ is often given to governments which operated in such a system.  See also caucus ; party discipline ; party leader ; independent .
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