Local and Urban Politics

E05 - Local Democratic Institutions and Representation

Date: Jun 12 | Time: 03:30pm to 05:00pm | Location:

The Participatory Outcomes of Participatory Budgeting: A Comparative Study of American and Canadian Cities: Raluca Gabriela Pavel (Loyola University Chicago), Olga Avdeyeva (Loyola University Chicago)
Abstract: One of the assumptions in the broader Participatory Budgeting (PB) literature is that this process could lead to higher levels of participation. Drawing upon the principles of participatory and deliberative democracy, which suggest that democratic engagement educates and mobilizes citizens, this research explores the relationship between PB and voter turnout. Very few studies have investigated this question in the context of PB and the results coming out are mixed, mostly because the focus has been on a very limited number of cities. Therefore, my study adopts a comprehensive comparative approach across various cities in the United States and Canada. Using city council district-level data spanning from 2000 to 2023, a difference-in-difference model is applied to observe the post-PB implementation effects. Preliminary findings indicate that the impact of PB on voter turnout may not be robust, primarily because of the way PB is implemented. This study sets the stage for further investigation into the nuances of PB's influence on broader political engagement. A forthcoming chapter will delve into an in-depth case study analysis to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between PB and voter turnout.

The emergence of a municipal political party: the case of the Rassemblement des Citoyens et des Citoyennes de Montréal (RCM)/Montreal Citizen's Movement (MCM): Sandra Breux (INRS)
Abstract: In Canada, analyses of municipal political parties are still few and far between. The few existing studies are mostly descriptive, relatively old and often focused on party personalities. To the best of our knowledge, few studies have carried out a detailed analysis of the political dynamics at work, and in a longitudinal manner. Based on the creation of an electoral database dating back to the 1960s, the testimony of former party members (n=48) and the party's archives, we will highlight the political conditions that led to the emergence of the Rassemblement des Citoyens et des Citoyennes de Montréal (RCM)/Montreal Citizen's Movement (MCM). The choice of this party is explained by its longevity (1974-2001), by the fact that some of its members and founders are still alive, but also by its similarities, at least in appearance, with contemporary formations. The changing institutional framework of the time, the desire to hold on to power, Drapeau's electoral domination and the nature of his party all contributed to the establishment of a monopolistic regime that paved the way for the emergence of a third party under specific social and economic conditions. This analysis offers several avenues of reflection for refining a typology of municipal political parties, but also for demonstrating that some of these municipal formations share many similarities with political parties at higher levels of government.

Towards a Theory of Local Party Systems in Canada: Katelynn Kowalchuk (University of British Columbia), Carey Doberstein (University of British Columbia)
Abstract: Research on the emergence, stability, and evolution of party systems is abundant within the political science discipline, spanning various electoral systems, regime types, and regions. Despite the wealth of literature on the emergence of national party systems, and a blossoming literature on local party systems abroad, there remains a lack of theorization about the emergence of local party systems in Canada. Though Canada maintains fewer partisan cities than the United States or Europe, major centres such as Vancouver and Montréal have allowed parties to operate in local elections (either officially or unofficially) for decades. This paper will aim to bring the discipline towards a theory of local party systems in Canada through an analysis of the applicability of current theories of national-level and local-level party systems to this context. While much of this literature is international in scope, many works focus on local party systems in federal states, implicating their potential utility for a theory of local party systems in Canada. Ultimately, I suggest that no present theory of local party system emergence can be applied directly to the Canadian context, prompting the opportunity for novel theorization. I conclude with a number of considerations for a theory of local party systems in Canada, drawing from both the national-level and local-level literatures.

Municipal Political Representation and Housing Affordability: Alexandre Rivard (University of Calgary), Jack Lucas (University of Calgary)
Abstract: Housing affordability has become a pressing issue in communities across Canada, and municipal governments play a critical role in shaping the character and quantity of housing supply available in local communities. At present, however, we know little about the extent to which municipal politicians are equipped to represent their constituents’ preferences on housing supply and housing affordability. In this paper, we combine a nationally representative survey of Canadians with a survey of mayors and councillors in municipalities across Canada to explore (a) the extent to which politicians align with their constituents in their housing policy attitudes and (b) the extent to which politicians accurately perceive constituents’ preferences with regards to housing supply. We conclude with a comparison of politicians’ representational performance on housing policy to their performance in other areas of municipal public policy.