(Politics): Session at the European Association for Urban History Conference: Cities in Motion 2020
How has the introduction of universal suffrage in municipal elections affected urban governance, and what kind of different concepts as well as structures of power have emerged between the citizens and the authorities?This session invites to discuss how universal suffrage in municipal elections has been advocated, disputed, enforced and perhaps exploited in different parts of Europe.Session content: Key Question: How has the introduction of universal suffrage in municipal elections affected urban governance, and what kind of different concepts as well as structures of power have emerged between the citizens and the authorities?
Urban governance from megacities to small provincial town(ships) has been defined by the the question about the power. While the question who has been empowered to elect representatives to rule the cities and towns has been extensively studied by historians and social scientists, there is however a gap in the literature about the introduction of universal suffrage at the local level and how it has affected urban governance. While the question of municipal suffrage has been addressed in recent years by some historians – for example discussing democratization of municipal government – the impact of suffrage in local governance remains an under-explored theme of urban history.
The importance of local government has been, and is, crucial in settling local disputes over town planning, land-use, public health, social policies, and environmental issues to name a few key topics. Likewise, the local government can be considered as a vehicle for nurturing political relationships during times of internal struggles, especially civil wars or natural catastrophes. The question who has been considered eligible to vote continues to define the importance of urban government.
This session is therefore concerned with how universal suffrage in municipal elections has been advocated, disputed, enforced and perhaps exploited in different parts of Europe from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. The session organisers welcome scholars from a range of disciplines to discuss the contrasting ways in which the introduction of suffrage at the local level affected the structure of urban governance in Europre cities, and to consider how different kinds of cities, towns and townships have experienced new rule of local democracy.
The organisers hope that the papers will discuss at least one of the following questions:
- What kind of decisions and outcomes municipal suffrage generated, especially compared to earlier undemocratic communal governance?
- Were the changes in local governance abrupt and revolutionary or rather small and incremental?
- Was the impact of suffrage congruent or dissimilar on both administrative and political level?
- Spokesperson: Kati Katajisto, University of Helsinki
- Co-organizer(s): Matti Hannikainen, University of Helsinki
- Keywords: Suffrage | Local government | Power
- Time period: Modern period
- Topic(s): Political
- Study area: Europe