Ruben Peeters (University of Antwerp) and Matti O. Hannikainen (University of Helsinki)
Political power is unevenly distributed following socio-economic inequalities, ethnicity and religion. This session investigates the different ways in which political dominance or struggle are caused, reproduced, or changed by various inequalities. Furthermore, through case-studies from early modern and modern Europe (Lviv, Muhlhausen, Cyprus), this sessions explores the use and abuse of political power and the impact of changing alliances and shifting inequalities.
Defending Political Dominance in Multi-Ethnic East Central European Cities Through Local Government - the Case of Lviv
Heidi Hein-Kircher (Herder-Instititute for Historical Research on East Central Europe - Member of the Leibniz-Association)
Local Government, Ethnic Inequalities, Habsburg Monarchy
The Habsburgian Law on Local Government empowered the political elites in the cities, particularly in statutary cities by offering autonomy on local level for the politically dominating group through which the other ethnic groups were excluded. Thus, the provisions on local government became a main trigger for enhanced ethnically based inequalities in cities which is discussed at the example of the Galician city Lviv. The paper will draw attention to a lesser researched field of the history of East Central European cities: the interconnection between social and political inequalities, local government, securitizing discourses and the rise of national conflicts.
In Lviv, the Polish political elites used the statute of 1870 and the electoral provision for self-empowerment. They could defend the local government as their arena and exclude particularly the Ruthenian (Ukrainian) population particularly through the election code while Jewish participation was limited. Since differentiation of social and ethnic groups was grosso modo parallel, so that it was possible to exclude the lower strata and the ethnic "other" from political participation.
The paper will discuss, how the electoral system was a tool to enhance political inequalities through exclusion from local government. It will show, that the election campaigns and the futile struggle to reform the electoral rules acted as important focal points for discourses and practices of power that supported the Polish political elite.
The debates about electoral code reforms were consequently particular nationalization discourses, which were based on lines of argument derived from the need for insurance: it was employed in defense of an ethno-culturally justified claim to political dominance and increased political inequalities for different ethnic groups. Overall, it will make clear that the rigid and intransigent attitude of the city council over election regulation reforms contributed to the dynamics of the nationality conflict and triggered inequalities within the city. Doing so, it will discuss how political inequalities reflected social ones too.
Political, Economic and Spatial Implications of Inequality in Ottoman and Autonomous Crete, 1870-1913
Yannis Kokkinakis (University of Crete)
Inequality, History of Crete, Social and Religious Topography
Crete is the largest and most populous island in Greece, and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean, with a current population of 623.000  and an area of 8.340 km2. Until 1970, the agriculture and livestock sectors held a dominant position in Crete’s economy, and this specialization was apparent in the structure and character of the landscape. With the exception of the major cities on the north coast, the vast majority of the island’s settlements lie in the hinterland around the three main mountain massifs. In 1900 the three biggest cities on the island (Herakleion, Chania, Rethymnon) accounted for 19.3% of the island’s total population. By contrast, today the same three cities have 36.4% of the total. This fact alone reflects the general trend towards urbanization in the 20th century, alongside the growth in the tourism and services sector.
In this paper I focus my attention on five distinctive but interconnected roots of inequality in urban Crete between 1870 and 1920, and the political, economic and spatial consequences of these phenomena. The first is associated with the transfer of property from Muslims to Christians in the context of the anticipated emancipation of Crete from the Ottoman Empire. The second has to do with regional inequality and antagonism between farming and livestock production. A third associated factor is the conflict between city and countryside, and the consolidation of an unequal relation between them. Two final decisive factors that must be evaluated are debt relations and international trade during the final years of Ottoman rule and the crucial early years of the autonomous regime in Crete (1898-1906), culminating in the Therissos revolt (1905-6).
During the period under consideration there was a gradual transfer of property from Muslims to Christians. In 1881 there were 2.18 Muslims for every 10 Christians in rural areas; by 1900 this proportion had diminished to 0.28 and by 1911 to 0.23. Having been driven out of their villages by the revolutionary movements in the second half of the 19th century, Muslims were forced to move into the walled cities on the north coast. This development heightened tensions and interreligious strife inside Herakleion and Chania, especially during the febrile years of revolution and foreign occupation at the close of the 19th century, which proved crucial to the island’s political future.
From Plutocracy to Liberal Pluralism: Democratic Breakthrough in a Regional Capital in Sweden 1900-1940
Rolf Hugoson (Umeå university)
Democratic Reforms, Pluralism, Participation
Despite Sweden often being portrayed as a typical example of a unitarian state, its cities have a long history of political and economic autonomy, in part because of the right to taxation, in part because of right to representation in the national parliament, (both before and after the 1866 parliamentary reform). Thus, the democratic breakthrough of the early 20th century can hardly be understood without reference to local arenas. Although with attention to the national and to some extent also the international in this period, only one example will be the focus of this paper: the city of Umeå (city privileges since 1622) in Västerbotten. As a regional capital (länshuvudstad) in the early 20th century it had invested in a hospital, hydroelectric power and a new sea port, as well as received state funding for schools, courts and two regiments (cavalry and infrantry). Attempts to mobilize new electorates thus also focused possibilities and problems of early welfare state modernization. Although liberal reforms sporadically were met by quasi-authoritarian methods, the common interests were soon met by pragmatic coalitions and to some extent a division of powers between different parties (just three in the period investigated) and their resepective constituencies. Against the background of this rather opitimistic portrait of a Swedish city in the early 20th century, also a few examples of failed pluralism will be investigated: these failures concern: Women, the poor, soldiers and the Sami people.