Oct. 4, 2021
What We Are Learning This Week with Dr. Paul Fairie
October 4, 2021 in POLI 425 City Government
Dr. Paul Fairie is exploring factors that drive voter turnout in local elections.
Can you tell us a little more about this topic?
Local elections traditionally have the lowest voter turnout of elections in Canada. Federal elections are usually somewhere between 60–70% range recently, but local votes, even close races, can be significantly lower. We’ll be looking at the latest research on this question. A big factor unique to local election turnout is the large difference in turnout between homeowners and renters, with homeowners voting at higher rates. Other factors common to other elections also matter, such as age and income. Why is homeownership special in municipal politics?
What else do you cover in your course?
This course is a wild ride through municipal politics, primarily in Canada, focusing on Calgary as a case study. We start by discussing various theories explaining who has power in cities, reviewing some of the classic research in municipal politics. We then go through various aspects of local politics—voters and elections, mayor and council, the importance of land use decision making, and how municipal governments and Indigenous communities interact.
What do you love about teaching this course?
City Politics is probably my favourite course to teach—when I first taught it a decade ago I was honestly relatively new to the topic. As I taught it the first time, I realized that what I previously thought was an important, but niche, area was maybe my favourite type of government to think about, and the level I most care about on a personal level. If this course is successful, I’m able to impart a little bit of the excitement I have for following and studying local politics.
Finally, what other courses would you recommend for students interested this topic?
While local government can seem like a stand-alone area, lots of other courses are relevant to understanding the bigger picture. In particular, given the special relationship between local politics and provincial politics, anything to better understand the Alberta provincial landscape is helpful to understanding what’s going on with our municipalities as well. So, take a look at: POLI 433 Urban Policy and Governance, POLI 427 Government and Politics of Alberta, POLI 426 Federalism, POLI 422 Indigenous Politics in Canada, POLI 428 Comparative Provincial Politics, and POLI 429 Electoral Behaviour, just to name a few of our UCalgary Political Science offerings!
Our Thanks to Dr. Paul Fairie for sharing your course with us
Follow Dr. Paul Fairie on Twitter @paulisci