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The Grassroots of Democracy: A Comparative Study of Competition and Its Impact in American Cities of the 1990s
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The Grassroots of Democracy: A Comparative Study of Competition and Its Impact in American Cities of the 1990s (Hardback)

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Synopsis

American cities provide many of the governmental services that contribute to a greater quality of life for their inhabitants. Local governments are seen as those closest to the people and most responsive to them, more so than state and national governments. Yet typical turnout in municipal elections is below 30 percent of those eligible; few people want to be candidates for low-paying positions in city governments; and seldom are elections competitive-rarely do they offer voters a choice of policy positions among candidates. In The Grassroots of Democracy, Norman Luttbeg provides the results of a comparative study of two rounds of elections in the late 1980s and early 1990s in 118 randomly chosen cities whose populations exceed 25,000. Luttbeg seeks to account for why some cities had competitive elections while others did not; to assess the impact of competition on municipal policies, such as achieving growth or lowering taxes; and to examine the interaction between competition and accurate representation of minorities and women. Never before has a study comparatively assessed elections and policies in American cities in sufficient numbers that the idiosyncrasies of cities do not swamp the general patterns. The Grassroots of Democracy will thus hold significant interest for political scientists, sociologists, urban planners, and public administrators.

Norman R. Luttbeg is Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University.

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