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Panel 47. New Municipalisms North and South: examining the possibilities for radical urban politics


  • Gabriel Silvestre, Newcastle University
  • Rodrigo Caimanque, University of Chile


New municipalism emerged as an effort to give a global collective identity to local initiatives generally born out of traditional institutions to promote a radical urban political imagination in the face of political distrust, rising social inequalities, and cuts to public spending (Russell, 2019; Thompson, 2021). The electoral challenge to gain executive and legislative power in city halls was, in many cases, a sequence to the struggle of collective mobilisation that occupied streets and squares around the world, particularly in cities in Europe and Latin America. Nevertheless, the context of new municipalism politics in the North can differ from the South (Arpini et al, 2023) beyond shared principles such as citizen-based deliberation, inclusive spaces for marginalised subjectivities, or the feminization of politics. While in European cities it was contextualised against postpolitics and the deepening of neoliberal policies following the 2008 financial crisis, in Latin America it has been linked with long-term structural deprivations, territorial disputes and struggles for radical democracy that has delivered important progressive policies, such as Porto Alegre’s Participatory Budgeting (Minuchin & Maino, 2023; Toro & Orozco, 2023).

In a context of ongoing and evolving neoliberal extractive practices, it has been argued that the new municipalism movement have either entered a period of crisis (Roth et al, 2023), particularly after Spanish experiences, or expanded the possibilities for progressive politics, as seen in Latin American cases that are enduring the test of time, such as the Recoleta municipality in Santiago and Valparaíso in Chile, as well as Rosario in Argentina (Caimanque & López-Morales, 2023; Silvestre & López-Fittipaldi, 2023).

We invite papers that examine different forms of municipalism both in the Global North and South, reflecting on their theoretical, practical and potential contributions, as well as the challenges and limitations that they faced. We welcome contributions from diverse perspectives on themes and questions including, but not limited to:

  • What’s next for new municipalism as a global movement? How can it respond to the rising far-right?
  • How do activists negotiate the tension between community organisation and institutional representation? What practices can be employed to manage and leverage this situation?
  • How do new municipalism representatives deal with internal bureaucracies to transform institutions?
  • How new is new municipalism? How does it relate to previous/ongoing processes of democratising the local state?
  • What are some of the possibilities and the limits that new municipalism finds in relation to degrees of power and autonomy to the local state? What are some of the strategies to navigate these?
  • What can municipalism actors do in different roles at the local authority (e.g. mayors, councillors, shared/collective council seats) as well as in upward scales (eg. regional, national governments)?
  • How do new municipalism policies look like in practice? To what extent has it been possible to ‘feminise’ politics and ‘de-commodify’ the city?
  • Are practices and experiences transferable? How do the alternative networks of policy circulation compare with the status quo?
  • How do experiences build on existing practices of widening participation in policy and decision making as well as designing new ones?

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