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Governing the Post-Communist City

Governing the Post-Communist City: Institutions and Democratic Development in Prague

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Governing the Post-Communist City
    Book Description:

    Original, engaging, and authoritative, this study has much to say about the political climate in Prague after the downfall of communism, and makes insightful conclusions about the factors that contributed to present political circumstances in the region.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8438-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-41)

    Arriving in the Czech capital of Prague today after twenty years away, the visitor would find the city transformed. The ornate facades and narrow, winding streets of the historic core, mostly grey and crumbling in the late 1980s are now a riot of colour and shine, the local population seemingly swallowed up by crowds of foreign tourists. Once home to a sparse smattering of restaurants and shops, the ancient streets now overflow with garish souvenir stands and stylish pubs, interspersed with the Gap, McDonald’s, Giorgio Armani, and countless other imports of Western commerce. Looking closer, beyond the renovated monuments and...

  7. 2 The Structure of Government in Prague: Building a Strong Local State
    (pp. 42-74)

    In 1990 new national governments across East Central Europe introduced sweeping local government reforms that established a local political autonomy long absent from East Central European politics. Local government soon became a significant focal point of political activity. Nowhere were the new responsibilities of local authorities put to the test more rapidly than in the capital cities, where the impact of national market reforms was immediate and profound. To meet the challenges of urban development in post-communist capitals such as Prague, local political leaders needed to have at their disposal strong and well-organized powers and resources. In many cases East...

  8. 3 Institutions and Political Actors in Early Post-communist Prague
    (pp. 75-110)

    The basic structure of the state has a major impact on the prospects for good government. Largely because of the historical legacy of local government in Prague, the structures developed in the early 1990s gave municipal politicians strong powers and resources. In principle at least, these gave Prague’s political leaders an advantage over their counterparts elsewhere in the region in their prospects for developing systematic policies that responded to the needs and interests of the citizenry. In other words, a strong local state made strong performance morefeasiblein post-communist Prague. Nonetheless, as we will see in detail in chapters...

  9. 4 Planning and Developing the Main Road Network: The Politics of Mutual Delegitimation
    (pp. 111-158)

    At the end of the communist era, public transit was the dominant mode of transport in Prague, accounting for some 80 per cent of total daily trips made in the city (Transport Engineering Institute 2000: 11). Nonetheless, the transport issue that attracted the most attention in 1990 and 1991 was the question of whether and how to continue building the freeways system. About one-third of the ZKS freeways network designed in the late communist era was in place in 1990, and the city’s administrative institutions were committed to seeing this project through to completion. Their aspirations were opposed by small...

  10. 5 Preservation and Development in Prague’s Historic Core: The Politics of Profit
    (pp. 159-199)

    At the end of the communist era, Prague had perhaps the best preserved historic city centre of any large city in East Central Europe. The historic core had experienced some rebuilding between the world wars, but the early rise of a preservationist movement (see Chapter 3) had prevented wholesale redevelopment. During the communist period the continued strength of preservationist sentiment and a lack of new construction ensured that the city’s core retained its historic character, however, it entered the post-communist era with a large number of buildings in acute need of repair.

    As defined by the boundaries of the Prague...

  11. 6 Institutional Change and Government Performance: Lessons from Prague
    (pp. 200-220)

    Between 1990 and 2000 the emergence of democracy dramatically changed the politics of urban development in Prague. The basic elements of democratic local government were all firmly established by the end of the decade. Prague had a freely elected municipal government with substantial autonomous powers and resources at its disposal, and it was embedded in a stable democratic national system that ensured legal protection for the activities of a free press and of autonomous societal groups. As happened with many polities in the region, Prague confounded pessimistic early predictions that the broad social and cultural legacies of communism would undermine...

  12. Appendix: Data on Interviews
    (pp. 221-224)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 225-236)
  14. References
    (pp. 237-260)
  15. Index
    (pp. 261-270)