The Organization of Conflict in American Local Government
Bucchianeri, Peter Raymond
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CitationBucchianeri, Peter Raymond. 2018. The Organization of Conflict in American Local Government. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractPolitics is fundamentally about conflict: where it takes place, what outcomes are at stake, and how the dividing lines are drawn. At the state and national levels in the United States, political parties are often at the heart of this conflict, using their power to shape the scope and contours of it to achieve their political goals. Yet, despite the key role that parties play in organizing conflict within American politics, the vast majority of the governments in the United States---nearly all at the local level---are either nonpartisan or effectively governed by a single party. How does the presence or absence of parties and party competition influence the nature of political conflict and the policies that successfully emerge from it?
To answer these questions, this dissertation considers the case of municipal government, leveraging a novel collection of legislative records from 170 city and county councils across the United States. In the first chapter, specifically, I consider when, and under what conditions, political parties organize legislative behavior. By examining patterns of roll call voting across local governments, I show that political parties are neither necessary nor sufficient to support the type of stable legislative coalitions that scholars have argued both exemplify party government and enable political accountability from voters. In the second chapter, I use a long time-series of legislative records from the New York City Council to examine the consequences of democratic one-party rule for legislative behavior and public policy. In doing so, I show that -- despite one-party rule -- politics in New York is both ideological and multidimensional, with intraparty factions that have shifted over time. Finally, in the third chapter, I explore whether and how political parties influence the issue content of the legislative agenda. By coding the policy content of over 375,000 proposed bills, I show that political parties leverage both their positive and negative agenda powers when institutionalized within the electoral system. However, the differences in the agenda across partisan and nonpartisan governments are relatively small in magnitude, suggesting that party agenda power is either limited or not unique to parties at all.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41127181
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