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Council Coalitions and Mayoral Regimes in Chicago

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We explore the structure of voting coalitions among members of the city council in Chicago at 10 different points in time from 1955 to 1995. In doing so, we develop a typology of mayor-council relationships that we use to categorize city politics, and we find four basic patterns ranging from complete mayoral domination to highly fractured councils. None of the city council voting patterns over the last 40 years meets the expectations of most theories of representative democracy. If city councils in other major cities follow the same patterns, these findings would call into question the degree to which urban politics fits the norms of deliberative democracy. The methodologies developed here would allow for the comparative study of city councils in various cities and a more accurate method of measuring at least some key aspects of regimes in different cities in different time periods.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Illinois at Chicago

Publication date: March 1, 1999


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