Is planning still political? The politicization of high-speed rail in Spain (1986–2016)

Post-political debate has stimulated a vigorous research agenda about the role of politics in regional and urban planning. It warns of a depoliticization process leading to the emergence of a consensual social order and the retreat of the properly political as disruptive and transformative practice. We propose a reframing of post-political debate through an empirically grounded conceptualization of the political sequence (politicization, depoliticization, and re-politicization) and by incorporating consensus as part of the political, thereby refusing the existence of a differentiated properly political moment. We develop this conceptualization by analyzing the politicization process of high-speed rail in Spain, which resulted in the implementation of one of the most extensive networks in the world. Based on a foundational political myth constructed around the first project implemented, a consensual politicization process has progressively taken place around high-speed rail in Spain. This political consensus contrasts with opposition to the high-speed rail project in the Basque Country. In both cases, high-speed rail is eminently political. The politicization of high-speed rail in Spain shows that, far from becoming a depoliticized practice, regional and urban planning remains eminently political, involving both consensus and conflict.

Published in:
Political Geography, 84, 102269, 1-15

 Record created 2020-10-05, last modified 2020-10-29

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