The 1988 Social and Liberal Democrats leadership election was called in the United Kingdom following the formation of the then Social and Liberal Democrats (later shortening their name to "Liberal Democrats"). It was intended to replace the two interim leaders, David Steel and Robert Maclennan, with a single figurehead better able to represent both the former members of the Liberal Party and of the Social Democratic Party.
There were two candidates and all members of the party were balloted using the Alternative Vote preference system. The election was won by Paddy Ashdown, who served as leader until his stepping down in 1999. The campaign occurred in a party which was still coping with the merger and saw a vituperative attack on Ashdown in a letter written by Alex Carlile, a Beith-supporting MP.
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