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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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Proportional Representation and the Practice of Democracy in New York City

Proportional Representation and the Practice of Democracy in New York City

(p.81) 3 Proportional Representation and the Practice of Democracy in New York City
Defining Democracy

Daniel O. Prosterman

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 examines the immediate aftermath of the electoral reform movement’s greatest victory in the United States. Withstanding a series of legal challenges, the city conducted its first PR elections in November 1937. New Yorkers elected the most diverse legislature in the city’s history. Less than one year after the new council members assumed office, Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature pursued a statewide ban of PR. The repeal measure failed, primarily because many viewed the referendum as a crude attempt to reassert state supremacy over municipal government. As the debate over PR evolved, party officials and civic activists on both sides strengthened the notion that the fate of voting rights in New York was fundamentally tied to broader struggles over the nature of democracy in the United States and the expansion of totalitarianism globally.

Keywords:   New York City, New York (state), government, proportional representation, city council, Democratic Party, Republican Party, electoral reform, voting rights, totalitarianism

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