TRACK 13 POLITICS: Opportunities for transformative and creative action
Kristina L Nilsson (Luleå University of Technology, Sweden)
Ants-Hannes Viira (Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonia)

Planning is closely connected with politics at regional, spatial, urban, and rural scales. Planning is based on the nations governance systems in terms of equality and spatial justice of the planning processes, for whom planning is done and how decisions are taken. To a large extent, planning decisions are taken by politicians elected from and by regular citizens. On the other hand, planners are trained as professionals, and the plans are based on scientific evidence and practical experience. Weighing political goals and professional knowledge causes challenges.

Therefore, planning can be considered as a method for achieving political goals and in the framework of legislative provisions, which are both political instruments. The societal development with changing social and economic situations, demography, migration etc. influence political goals and, in that way also goals for urban and rural planning. Strategic planning is one way to achieve political goals through it impact on policy documents and legal guidelines. Planning can never act directly the same way in the real urban or rural context and processes. Therefore, different methods are used to achieve the wished goals. Urban design is aimed to influence urban development that can be of political interest as it will shape urban space and places for urban residents. However, contemporary planning is influenced by neo-liberal economic paradigm that includes privatization and marketization with an aim of economic optimization that often contradicts against spatial justice and could be considered as post-political.

Keywords: planning and politics, political planning decisions, professionalism, planning processes, power, conflicts, spatial justice, equality, planning theory, negotiation, mediation.