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This article has two objectives. One is to explain the rise of female political representation in local assemblies in Tokyo's 23 Special Wards. The other is to examine how political women in Japan have or have not changed since the publication of Susan Pharr's Political Women in Japan in 1981. When Tokyo first saw the emergence of a new type of local assembly women in the 1990s, they consisted of well-educated suburban housewives who led the Seikatsusha Nettowaku movement. In the past 15 years, however, Tokyo has witnessed a decline in ‘housewife politicians’ and a further diversification in the types of political women. This article pays special attention to a new type of political women called Mama Giin (literally, mommy politicians). Mama Giin are professional working mothers, who have become local assembly women to address deficiencies in childcare services. Their numbers increased as socio-economic changes and party realignment reshaped supply and demand for female candidates in Tokyo. Most of them accept the gendered responsibilities for childcare very much like Pharr's New Women did in the 1970s. The younger cohorts of highly educated women enjoy greater job options and life choices unavailable to the New Women of their mothers' generation. However, they do not necessarily challenge Japan's patriarchy. This article examines the biographies of female local politicians in Tokyo's 23 Special Ward assemblies to understand the rise of Mama Giin.
This chapter analyses how the geographical scale of the local and the institutional forms of local government have become increasingly significant in understanding the politics of race and ethnicity in contemporary Britain. We suggest that the areas of settlement of migrant communities and minorities are key to understanding the evolution of the invariably unfinished politics of race. These localities, we argue, are characterised both by ongoing mainstream institutional responses to migration and community formation and the struggles, social movements and antiracist solidarities, exclusionary closure and boundary-crossing moments of dialogue, selective ethnic advance and systemic racial disadvantage, individual stories of success and failure. Through exploring these everyday expressions of racialised politics on the ground, we can begin to rethink the processes that have helped to frame the emergence of a new politics of race, shaping how new forms of political mobilisation, engagement, and disengagement are likely to emerge over the coming period.
This book has asked whether and why Sunni secondary cities in the Middle East have a higher propensity for unrest and ideological-political activism than capital cities. Taking Tripoli in northern Lebanon as a microcosm of the crisis of Sunnism in the broader Middle East, the book tells a story of urban violence in the 20th and early 21st centuries.
Throughout the Tripoli case study, this book identified a feature of secondary cities that I call city corporatism. The root of violence in secondary cities is that these cities often see themselves as united during national turmoil, as a base for one political faction, generally the opposition.
The book identifies four causal mechanisms that jointly explain why urban violence erupts in secondary cities: external meddling; the personal ambitions of local elites; local residents’ willingness to join the fighters; and the existence of competing, or hybrid, Lebanese sovereignties. Each mechanism helps explain why Tripoli has been prone to violence in recent decades.
The 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri unleashed a political earthquake in Lebanon. Tripoli and its surroundings became a Sunni base for the Future Movement, led by Rafiq Hariri’s son Saad and other neoliberal elites from Lebanon’s nouveaux riches political class. For the first time, Tripolitanians rallied around a political party based outside their own city.
Many Tripolitanians supported the Future Movement in 2005 because they hoped that Saad Hariri, with his personal wealth and connections to Saudi Arabia, might bring investments to marginalized areas in northern Lebanon. However, these expectations were not met.
The Future Movement was an elite-based party, and its strategies of outreach to the poor had severe shortcomings. It used divisive sectarian (anti-Shiʿi) electoral strategies in Tripoli and empowered Sunni radicals, leading to a spiral of violence. Sunni hardliners gained prominent roles in Tripoli after Hizbullah and its allies turned their weapons inwards in Beirut in May 2008. However, this sectarian resource was insufficient to help the Future Movement maintain its popularity in Tripoli in the long run.
Men are overrepresented in positions of political leadership around the world (IPU Parline 2020). This overrepresentation is particularly stark in right-leaning political parties, while women come closer to (though rarely achieve) parity with men in left-leaning parties (O’Brien 2018). This inequality in political representation threatens citizens’ support for democratic governance. Both trust in government and engagement with government are tied to the presence of descriptive representatives who share one’s traits, such as gender, in elected offices (Atkeson 2003; Childs 2004; Reingold and Harrell 2010; Schwindt-Bayer 2010). Thus, the absence of equal descriptive representation diminishes government trust and citizen political engagement, contributing to the crisis of representative democracy. Furthermore, unequal political representation also compromises the representativeness of government outcomes. The traits of elected officials, including gender, shape the issues addressed by governments and the direction of policies produced by governments (Childs 2004; Clayton, Josefsson, and Wang 2017; Holman 2014; Schwindt-Bayer 2010; Swers 2013). Consequently, the lack of equal descriptive representation for men and women in governments across the world yields policy outcomes from governments that do not reflect the will of all of their citizens, contributing to the crisis of representative democracy.
Drawing upon a study of the labor movement’s challenge to inequality in Los Angeles from 1992 to 2008, this chapter presents a critical analysis of the city as a site of solidarity. It shows how, to build local labor law, the labor movement must promote solidarity not just among workers but among different progressive movements, which become interlinked around campaigns to reshape low-wage work, while also promoting related goals: including immigrant inclusion, expanding affordable housing, and promoting environmental justice. As such, the chapter is fundamentally about the role of solidarity in efforts to build decentralized power in a political context where there is an absence of political opportunities for moving labor policy, specifically, and progressive social policy more generally at the national level. Building decentralized power as a way to rebuild labor law, this chapter suggests, requires conceptualizing solidarity as a local, city-wide project, with two related components: one is inter-movement solidarity, which is solidarity between labor and allied movements; and the other is intra-movement solidarity, which is solidarity among workers fighting for better lives. The chapter argues that, while both visions of solidarity are necessary to build local labor reform, there are tensions between the two that must always be managed.
Many studies have investigated why countries adopt gender quotas for their elections. In this article, we answer a different question: why do political parties comply with gender quotas when the costs of noncompliance are absent or minimal? To answer this question, we analyze data from 1,600 party lists and 106 parties competing across 121 cities in the 2015 municipal elections in Ukraine. Our subnational approach tests whether contextual factors flagged by the broader gender literature explain variation in compliance across localities. The results of our models support our contention that Ukrainian political parties behaved strategically in terms of nominations and quota compliance. We find that urbanization and female incumbency fueled quota compliance. Parties, however, were less likely to comply with quotas in cities with more Ukrainian speakers. We suggest that the politics of memory explain this outcome, as Ukrainian speakers are more likely to remember of the costs of Soviet rule.
This chapter explains how governance, especially local governance, happens in China. It expands upon China’s hierarchical political structure and its environmental governance system, highlighting the local environmental protection bureau (EPB)’s low rank and dilemma of having two principals—upper-level EPB and local government. Utilizing field interviews with key local actors and referencing public and internal policy documents, Shen lays out a broad range of factors considered when superiors make promotion decisions, such as competency, performance, and character factors. Crucially, Shen finds that local political leaders are expected to implement critical policies like economic growth steadily and incrementally during their tenure, with later years’ performance being more critical for promotion evaluation. The chapter concludes by exploring the pathways through which local leaders influence regulatory stringency to promote different priorities and targets, with promotions in mind.
Why has there been uneven success in reducing air pollution even in the same locality over time? This book offers an innovative theorization of how local political incentives can affect bureaucratic regulation. Using empirical evidence, it examines and compares the control of different air pollutants in China-an autocracy-and, to a lesser extent, Mexico-a democracy. Making use of new data, approaches, and techniques across political science, environmental sciences, and engineering, Shen reveals that local leaders and politicians are incentivized to cater to the policy preferences of their superiors or constituents, respectively, giving rise to varying levels of regulatory stringency during the leaders' tenures. Shen demonstrates that when ambiguity dilutes regulatory effectiveness, having the right incentives and enhanced monitoring is insufficient for successful policy implementation. Vividly explaining key phenomena through anecdotes and personal interviews, this book identifies new causes of air pollution and proposes timely solutions. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
Why do provincial governments change policy, even when those policies have proven successful? This paper explores a debate regarding the determinants of provincial policy choice and the degree of discretion provinces are permitted in this area. It does so by scrutinizing the shift in Guizhou's development policy from a poverty reduction orientation to a wholehearted pursuit of economic growth, urbanization and industrialization. In contrast to those who argue that central experience, prospects for promotion or local conditions are key factors explaining policy choice, the paper concludes that Guizhou's shift in policy had more to do with the backgrounds and experiences of top provincial leaders. The result has implications for our understanding of central–local relations and local government decision making.
The themes animating this volume are on stark display at the local level in American politics. A great deal of scholarship focused on who governs cities explores how authority is exercised to allocate resources, and how markets, economic power, politics, and policy interrelate (Dahl 1961). The evidence suggests that high-resource actors utilize local political institutions to maintain their economic and social dominance.
A great deal of research presents the correspondence between economic conditions and incumbent electoral fortunes as evidence of democratic accountability. A central theoretical mechanism for this phenomenon is that voters have information about performance. Using communications data consisting of more than 110,000 government press releases from cities in the US combined with fine-grained economic and crime data, I leverage the breadth of local variation in conditions to assess the inputs to this mechanism behind accountability. I provide causal evidence that government communication changes as a result of performance in a strategic manner: local politicians are more likely to communicate about both economic conditions and crime when performance is improving—better wages and less crime—than when performance is worse. These findings add direct evidence from the underutilized area of local politics that politicians strategically communicate in a way that threatens accountability.
Do state politicians reward school districts that vote in favor of the party in power more than school districts that vote in favor of the opposing party? With large shares of money at the state level to transfer to local governments and the ability to target core voters, it would seem likely that politicians would take advantage of the ability to distribute education funds. However, in understanding how states distribute education funds, little emphasis is given to partisan influences, particularly the congruence between local school districts and the state level. To test this, I collected data at the precinct level within each state and, using mapping software, spatially joined precinct boundaries to school district boundaries. Once this relationship was established, I aggregated precinct-level information to school districts to understand the partisan voting patterns within each school district for elections from 2000 to 2010. This article finds evidence that funding formulas are susceptible to political influence and that parties are able to influence the geographic distribution of education funds to core voters.
How pervasive is partisan sorting and polarization over public policies in the American public? We examine whether the barriers of partisan sorting and polarization seen in national politics extend to important local policies that shape economic development. To describe the extent of partisan sorting and polarization over local development policies, we employ conjoint survey experiments in representative surveys of eight US metropolitan areas and a hierarchical modeling strategy for studying heterogeneity across respondents. We find that strong partisans are sorted by party in some of their policy opinions, but rarely polarized. The same voters who disagree about national issues have similar preferences about local development issues suggesting a greater scope for bipartisan problem solving at the local level.
Bridging the literature on gender and politics, democratization, and political parties, this article investigates the causes of parties’ varying compliance with electoral quotas. Whereas research has so far focused on parties’ willingness to comply, this article sheds light on their ability to do so. It suggests that the more quotas parties have to comply with, and the more complex the quotas’ designs, the more difficult implementation becomes for the organizationally weak parties that we often encounter in new democracies. The argument is developed and substantiated in a comparative analysis of parties’ quota compliance in the 2018 Tunisian local elections. Although the Islamist party was able to comply fully with all quotas (for women, youth and people with disabilities), small secular parties lost a number of lists and state funding due to non-compliance. While the quotas were highly effective in securing group representation, they had repercussions on party and party system consolidation.
Seattle, Washington instituted a new “democracy voucher” program in 2017 providing each registered voter with four $25 campaign finance vouchers to contribute to municipal candidates. Prior research shows that without efforts to mobilize voters, electoral reforms like the voucher program are often insufficient to increase participation among underrepresented groups. We examine how mobilization affects the voucher program’s redistributive goals – does it increase participation among infrequent voters, or does it engage regular participants in politics? In the 2017 election cycle, we partnered with a coalition of advocacy organizations on a field experiment to estimate the effects of providing voters with information about democracy vouchers through door-to-door canvassing, texting, digital advertisements, and e-mails. While mobilization increased voucher use and voter turnout, responsiveness was greatest among frequent voters. As our findings suggest that transactional mobilizing is insufficient to engage infrequent participants, we posit that deeper organizing is necessary to fulfill the program’s redistributive goals.
Local governments play a central role in American democracy, providing essential services such as policing, water, and sanitation. Moreover, Americans express great confidence in their municipal governments. But is this confidence warranted? Using big data and a representative sample of American communities, this book provides the first systematic examination of racial and class inequalities in local politics. We find that non-whites and less-affluent residents are consistent losers in local democracy. Residents of color and those with lower incomes receive less representation from local elected officials than do whites and the affluent. Additionally, they are much less likely than privileged community members to have their preferences reflected in local government policy. Contrary to the popular assumption that governments that are “closest” govern best, we find that inequalities in representation are most severe in suburbs and small towns. Typical reforms do not seem to improve the situation, and we recommend new approaches.
This paper presents an analysis of the personalization of the vote in Italian municipal elections in the period 1993–2017. Considering the ability of mayoral candidates to attract more votes than those of the lists that support them, the paper outlines the socio-demographic and political characteristics of the candidates who receive the most personalized votes. Contrary to what one might expect, the most personalized candidates are the losing candidates, not the winning ones. At the same time, the candidates who present themselves as outsiders are more personalized: women; candidates at the head of civic lists; those who lead coalitions positioned at the extremes of the left/right axis; candidates supported by one or two lists. Thus, the paper shows the propensity of the Italian electorate to use the split vote to reward those candidates who present themselves as challengers, rather than the established ones, also in the more pragmatic context of local government elections. Moreover, while it is true that personalization is increasingly more important in the political and electoral context, the ability to create lists of candidates for municipal elections capable of obtaining the broad support of voters seems to count as much, if not more.
“Political violence” is seemingly on the rise again in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The violence that began in the 1980s and reached a peak in the transition period resurfaced before the local government elections in August 2016. Krämer provides a processual understanding of local dynamics of violence in the eThekwini Municipality and situates the current episode within the historical trajectory of violent conflict. He examines how exclusionary identities get activated in local elections and argues that underlying the violence between supporters of hostile political parties are conflicting forms of autochthonous belonging and contradictory ideas about what constitutes membership in a community.
Chapter 4 directly links the regulations introduced in Chapter 3 with public meetings. This chapter focuses on why proposals end up in public meetings and what types of issues members of the public and zoning officials raise. We introduce the novel data on meeting minutes from Massachusetts cities and towns that we use in Chapters 4, 5, and 6. Using these meeting minutes, we trace 100 randomly selected proposals in which we collected especially detailed project and meeting information. We show that once a project requires a public hearing, members of the public raise any and all concerns—not just those directly pertaining to the regulations that necessitated a meeting in the first place. The regulations described in Chapter 3 provide the opportunities for neighborhood defenders to air virtually all of their concerns and objections.