Municipalism is a political tradition focused on local power, whether at a small village, a city or a metropolis. As a political strategy, Municipalism considers local power as the best place where to elaborate a political struggle in order to redefine democracy and citizenry.
Historically, Municipalism is connected with anarco-syndicalist, federalist and confederalist, and autonomous traditions, among others, and with concepts such as the “Right to the City”, among other notions. Precisely due to its being rooted within local realities, it is difficult to achieve a unique, monolithic definition of Municipalism: it meets different names, forms and strategies according to the different contexts, histories and traditions from which it emerges and where it intervenes.
While it does not necessarily takes an electoral form, a characteristic of Municipalism is its focus in institution building and – when possible – the electoral take of existing institutions. However, the taking of institutions is not an end in itself. Municipalism always stresses the need to maintain a link, and productive tension, between the institutional “inside” and the movement “outside”.
There is a certain “Municipalist method” which would be strongly based in the notion of confluence.
A Municipalist confluence is the organization of an electoral platform or structure in which different parties, collectives, movements and individual citizens take part. This form of the confluence goes beyond a usual electoral coalition, since a confluence would not merely consist of a simple sum of preexisting elements, but the articulation of a new political subject, through the cooperation among its different actors, and its open-ended character, always welcoming participation by individual, not politically affiliated, citizens. Its organizational structure, its electoral program, and the rest of element that configure the confluence, need to be elaborated in a democratic, participated and transparent manner.
What does Municipalism propose? What makes it different from other political options? One of the crucial characteristics of Municipalism is its rejection to traditional ideological adscriptions. What is important is not the -ism the Municipalist confluence should belong to, or its place along a fixed ideological specter, but democratic citizenry protagonism. Of course, that does not mean that Municipalist proposals are post-ideological, or neutral. On the contrary. Among Municipalism’s most important concerns are the implementation of social and cooperative economy; the development of forms of political participation and deliberation, as well as transparency and accountability mechanisms (through online tools, neighborhood assemblies, public meetings with elected officials, etc.); the recovery and implementation of social policies, with special focus on care; and the transformation of the urban model, with special attention to housing, remunicipalization of services, protection of common goods and resources (water, energy) and ecological sustainability.
Reference Ciudades sin miedo. Guia del movimiento municipalista global. 2018. Icaria editorial. Vicente Rubio-Pueyo. Municipalism in Spain. From Barcelona to Madrid and Beyond. 2017. Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung – NYC Office.