Emerging post-political city in Seoul
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Emerging post-political city in Seoul book
Seoul shares many characteristics of the post-political city including consensual politics and the fading of political debates over urban policy issues. The weakness of urban politics results from a long history of political centralisation without any experiences of the limited jurisdiction of local governments contrasted with the overwhelming forces of central government. Furthermore, local elections in Seoul are dominated by the intention of voters to protest against the ruling party of national government. This leads very often to one-party dominance in urban politics, which tends to substantially weaken the political function of city council. Despite these depoliticising conditions, the politicisation of urban policies occurred when former mayors of the Seoul Metropolitan Government Lee Myung-Bak (2002–2006) and Oh Se-hoon (2006–2011) undertook mega-projects for urban (re-)development. The overt political antagonism against these projects led by an alliance of liberal political parties and civic groups did not dissolve until Park Won-soon, the former leader of an influential civic organisation, became mayor in 2011. Mayor Park has pursued more inclusive urban governance that is intended to foster civic participation. However, under the current liberal urban regime, which incorporates a number of civic activists into its administration bodies, the hollowing out of politics in the implementation of urban policies has paradoxically accelerated. Oppositional voices have substantially shrunk, whilst civic participation at the grassroots level seems not to have increased as much as had been expected. From this constellation, a post-political city emerges with the formation of a new urban governance.