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Defining DemocracyElectoral Reform and the Struggle for Power in New York City$
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Daniel O. Prosterman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377736

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377736.001.0001

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The Politics of Electoral Reform in New York City History

The Politics of Electoral Reform in New York City History

(p.13) 1 The Politics of Electoral Reform in New York City History
Defining Democracy

Daniel O. Prosterman

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 analyzes the nineteenth-century battles over government reform that precipitated the twentieth-century campaigns for proportional representation. This section positions the movement for electoral reform within the context of long-standing competition between political coalitions for power in municipal affairs. It argues that the birth of municipal reform as an organized political platform coincided with elite New Yorkers’ loss of local authority to Tammany Hall (the Democratic Party’s Manhattan-based apparatus) in the nineteenth century. As part of this struggle for urban political power, PR gained credence with reformers as a policy for improving city governance through the transformation of municipal representation—a transformation they hoped would entail the return of political power to an elite cohort and diminish popular influence in government.

Keywords:   New York City, Tammany Hall, representation, reform, government, urban politics, nineteenth century

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