Session 2 . La fábrica del urbanismo por la innovación social y el commoning

Re-centering the right to the city in Lisbon Metropolitan area: which post-austeritarian trends in the housing and planning domain?

Giovanni Allegretti  and António José Pires de Brito

In Portugal, the “austeritarian” policies which became common after 2007 in several Mediterranean countries, received in May 2011a stronger official seal through the so-called “Troika Agreement”, a bailout between the Portuguese government, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund aimed at preventing the country from default. Specific chapters of the agreement were dedicated to the housing market and the revision of decentralization and governance models. As so, in 2012, a new tenant law was approved, liberalizing the housing market. As complementary layers of the same policy, the government approved two new policies, commonly known as “Visa Gold” and “Retired Gold”. The first aimed at granting Schengen visas to investors from non-European countries; the second was imagined to secure tax exemption to retired European citizens that choose to live in Portugal. Despite being national policies, together with the cutbacks to public investments in housing, public spaces and infrastructures, these public policies contributed to deeply transform, in few years, the urban fabric of Lisbon Metropolitan Area.

The reactions to these changes proved very different in diverse parts of Lisbon´s Metropolitan Area, aid mainly (but not only) centered on practices of “participation by irruption” (Ibarra, 2007), due to the very limited scope of the numerous participatory processes “by invitation” that the majority of municipalities shaped in the last decade. In the most peripheral territories, practices based on commoning tried to counterbalance the lack of investments, unemployment, decrease in income and the loss of guaranteed rights. In the central areas, with the predominance of the tourism industry, the resistance and the creation of alternative visions for urban development have been more related to the construction of umbrella citizens’ movements and the search for new forms to live in the urban environment.

Until 2015, public authorities have been shy in working on the unbalances and injustices of this fast-transforming urban fabric. But since the election of the new left-wing government, the discussion on the rights to housing and the rights to the city gained new strength in the public sphere, and a Secretary of State was named to try to coordinate with more intense coherence the relations between national and local policies on these issues. On the eve of local elections (scheduled for October 1st 2017), the debates on housing markets and the consequences of the new urban order inherited from several years of austeritarian policies, are a strong core of the political campaign, and can enlighten on an important ongoing transformation of the State-society relations.

Authors (both members of INURA – International Network for Urban Research and Action):

Giovanni Allegretti is senior researcher at the Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra in Portugal, and co-chair of the Authority for Participation of Tuscany Region, Italy. He coordinates the Horizon 2020 project “EMPATIA”.

António José Pires de Brito is researcher at Dinamia-CET center of ISCTE-IUL University, and coordinator of projects of community development at the Aga Khan Foundation in Lisbon. Since 2011, he directed the “Critical Neighborhood” Project in Vale da Amoreira


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