Conference Agenda

RN37_01b: Local elections: Agenda, policies and risks
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Andrzej Wojciech Bukowski, Jagiellonian University
Location: BS.3.20
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


'Taking Back Control'? Energy Democracy, Municipalism And The Crisis Of Liberal markets.

Larry Reynolds

UCLan University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom

The apparent unravelling of the spatio-temporal fix of neoliberal globalisation is accompanied by contestations over the scale of future social, economic and political life. From the national to the municipal, different imagined communities are invoked in calls to ‘take back control’. This is also the case with the sociotechnical imaginaries of energy transition, which imagine communities at a divergent range of scales

In the UK and many EU member states, new imaginaries, practices and infrastructures of energy localisation and re-municipalisation are taking shape. This paper is based on research that examines the recent experience of local authorities in the UK who have began to establish locally owned or locally branded municipal energy supply companies. These are the first municipal energy companies in the UK since nationalisation centralised the industry in 1948, and also the first forms of public ownership since privatisation in 1989.

UK energy re-municipalisation gains its support through public distrust of the ‘big six’ energy corporations. But it is also enabled by market liberalisation which has allowed space for local authorities to become energy suppliers and technological changes around ‘distributed energy’ and small scale generation. However, operating within the framework of liberal market competition, these new companies face strategic dilemmas around economic geographies of scale versus local democracy and local identity, as well as trade-offs between imperatives of low carbon and low cost energy. This paper develops theories of materiality, democracy and infrastructural commons in relation to these developments, to interrogate electrical and political power.

Decreasing Voter Turnout As A Threat To Democracy In Metropolitan Areas

Günter Warsewa

University of Bremen, Germany

In Germany, like in other European countries, shrinking voter turnout is seen as an indicator for social disintegration and as serious threat to democracy. This tendency seems to be particularly dramatic in big cities and metropolitan areas where the quote of non-voters raised since the end of the 1970s and reached about 50% in the current decade. Although there are different reasons and explanations for abstinence in elections on local, regional and national level, this does not give an explanation for the higher rates of voter turnout in big cities.

The paper will argue, that in big cities the complexity of requirements and interests in urban alldays live and postfordistic social structures overstrains the capabilities of traditional political institutions and procedures. Therefore, the difference between steering and problem solving capacity of policy on one hand and the demand for problem solutions on the other is higher than in other types of regions. Citizens do perceive this in their daily routines and environments but, this is also the place where the conditions for their identification with the community and the commitment to democratic participation are created. The paper will analyse the social conditions for identification, civil engagement and democratic participation more in detail and conclude, that by far not only deprived and subproletarian milieus have good reasons for refusing to vote. There is also an increasing number of average and well-situated middle-class people which from several reasons lose more and more their commitment for democratic elections. The contribution will also discuss approaches to solution, especially deliberative forms of citizens’ participation.

The social and spatial structure of the vote for the Northern Leauge and 5 Stars Movement in Italy. A research on the Metropolitan urban area of Milan data.

Niccolò Morelli1, Bruno Cousin2, Matteo Del Fabbro2, Matteo Piolatto3, Jonathan Pratschke4, Tommaso Vitale2

1Università di Bologna, Italy; 2SciencesPo, France; 3Università di Milano, Italy; 4Università di Napoli Federico II, Italy

This contribution investigates the performances obtained by the 5 Stars Movement(5SM) and the Northern League(NL) in the metropolitan urban area of Milan at the last elections on 2018. Despite the media vote in Milan (city) has been described as an exception to the national trend, widening the view to the periphery the situation is radically different. Through a geo-referenced analysis of the vote, it is intended to show that in peripheral areas the yellow-green majority was already present long before it turned into a government alliance. These areas are characterized by the presence of people who occupy marginal positions of the social hierarchies (Biorcio & Vitale, 2016) and which occupy not only a geographical periphery but also social, following the lexicon of the theory of social centrality proposed by Milbrath (1965). Urban sociology has strongly insisted on pushing political and social studies to dismantle a city scale and adopt a metropolitan scale for its own analysis. The metropolitan dimension would be essential for a full understanding of citizens' relations with politics, given the strong social and economic interdependence between the territories of an area of high integration and daily mobility of the population. In this presentation the metropolitan boundaries defined by the OECD for the Functional Urban Areas will be used (OECD, 2013; Del Fabbro, 2018). The results obtained by the 5SM and the NL regrouped at the school level (the finest one) to get a geo-referencing of the vote.These data will be combined with the 2011 census data using the finer level, that of the sections, regrouped on a basis of about 5000 inhabitants, to show the socio-economic characterization of the vote.

How Have You Learned To Be Neoliberal?: Ljubljana's Entrepreneurial Strategies And Urban Policy Transfer

Klemen Ploštajner

Faculty of Social Science, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

The starting point of the contribution is the analysis of "actually existing neoliberalism" that does not see neoliberal social transformation as an universal and homogeneous process, but as a variegated, path-dependent and contextual local articulation of general neoliberal tropes of deepening and spreading market forces. Neoliberalization is thus always locally molded and reworked according to the local power relations, institutional arrangements and especially subordinate or relative autonomous position in the world. Contribution on neoliberal transformation of Ljubljana's local state will try to map this local process and local articulation of neoliberal policies. However, its main goal is not to describe particularities of Ljubljana's "actually existing neoliberalism", but to try to understand what influences its dissemination, application and development. Three main sources can be detected: structural political and economic reorganization (shifts in the regimes of accumulation and rescaling of the state), reorganization of local elite and urban policy transfer. The paper will focus especially on urban policy transfer, but contextualize it by also briefly addressing other sources, by analyzing where do ideas for local development come from and how are they reworked by local officials. To understand the process of policy transfers three methods will be used: tracking the policy connections and networks of city officials (urban policy tourism); analyzing strategic documents; interviews with local officials.